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by Callie Rainosek

Cole Lyle and Kaya: Endless PAWS-abilities

Cole Lyle, Kaya, DVM student, and Dr. Stacy Eckman Cole Lyle, a 26-year-old veteran of the Afghanistan War, is working to combat the tragic effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition triggered by experiencing a terrifying event, such as war. With his service dog, Kaya, at his side, Lyle is working to pass legislation that would provide veterans with PTSD easier access to service dogs. Despite Lyle’s busy schedule collaborating with members of Congress, Kaya’s care is still of utmost importance. In support of Lyle’s efforts to provide veterans with PTSD easier access to service dogs, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) is providing Kaya’s care free of cost. Although Kaya has changed Lyle’s life for the better, service dogs are not provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans with PTSD. But, Lyle is hopeful for a change. “The VA does not provide service dogs for veterans to specifically combat symptoms of post-traumatic stress,” Lyle said. “I am trying to change that via H.R. 4764, which is the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act.” 22 •

• Winter 2017

Motivated by his own experience with PTSD and the tragic deaths of peers suffering from the condition, Lyle has been pursuing the PAWS Act for over two years. Lyle, like some veterans, did not find relief from traditional treatments, such as medication and counseling sessions. “When I got out of the military I was 22 years old, and I tried to utilize the VA system,” Lyle explained. “I took pills and even went to counseling, but my symptoms seemed to stagnate or get worse. Concurrent with getting out of the military, I had a couple friends commit suicide as a result of post-traumatic stress and I was also experiencing a divorce. I didn’t have the support system of my military family, I didn’t have a job, wasn’t in school, and I felt like I didn’t have a sense of purpose anymore. I was tired of feeling this way, so I took the proactive step of quitting pills and exploring other options.” After bonding with Kaya, the relationship with his service dog positively changed Lyle’s life. “There were days when I just didn’t want to get out of bed,” he said. “When Kaya came into my life, I felt

CVM Today - Winter 2017  
CVM Today - Winter 2017  

A semi-annual publication for the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical...