NEBRASKA -- According to a study done by two Department of Veterans' Affairs outpatient clinics, results suggest that canine companionship does help with psychological distress with PTSD, safety, and loneliness amongst veterans.

In 2020, Vets Get Pets was approved by the legislature to help veterans in the state adopt their forever animals. 

Communications Director for the Nebraska Department of Veterans' Affairs Holden Armstrong, said since the program's first adoption in July of 2021, the program has had numerous rave reviews from veterans.

"Just grateful veterans saying you know my dog has helped me with anxiety, or loneliness since XYZ has happened in my life," said Armstrong. "Everyone we've heard from who've utilized Vets Get Pets has just had amazing things to say. So, it's really been a great response."

The program launched the sale of Vets Get Pets license plates on Jan. 1, 2021, completely funding the program.

Nebraska drivers can buy a $5 plate with 100% of the proceeds going to the program, or a customized message plate for $40 with 75% of the proceeds going to the program and the rest to the DMV.

This allows veterans to go to any shelter or rescue licensed by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to adopt their animal, with Vets Get Pets proving up to $350 to the shelter or rescue to cover the adoption fees.

Animal Shelter of Northeast Nebraska Manager Lisa Doescher said that it's important for veterans to find their animals without worrying about the cost. 

"So, a lot of veterans especially ones that are single or on some sort of disability, the cost is definitely an issue...but it's great that when someone is on a limited income they can still come in and get a pet because really that pet can be a life-saving animal for them," said Doescher.  

Armstrong said it's important to focus on reaching more shelters as they move forward.

"Right now, we're really focusing on the shelters just to let them know that this is available to them...try to make it as easy as possible for them to do, so that when a veteran comes in and says 'hey I want to do a Vets Get Pets.' They don't back away. They're like 'yeah, let's do it right now,'" said Armstrong.

Vets Get Pets has helped facilitate over 50 adoptions and sell almost 1,000 custom plates.

Click here for more information on registering for the program or to purchase a plate.