Australian Defence Force veterans will have better access to highly trained assistance dogs, thanks to funding from the Federal Government.
Minister of Veterans' Affairs, Darren Chester, announced on Tuesday that the Federal Government will provide uncapped funding to help train and purchase assistance dogs.
"This is a major boost to the mental health of our veterans in our community," he said.
"This is an initiative which veterans have raised with me during several round table discussions across Australia and I'm confident it will deliver long-term mental health benefits.
"I've met many veterans over the past 12 months who've told me their dog has helped save their life. Now the government will take some of the financial pressure off individuals along with voluntary and ex-service organisations which have previously funded assistance dogs from their own fundraising efforts."
One veteran who has experienced the benefits of an assistance dog is Michael Nobes.
Mr Nobes, who was a clearance diver for the Australian Defence Force, received his assistance dog Lola just over a year ago, with Lola drastically changing his life.
"I was on about six to eight pills for my PDST (post traumatic stress disorder) a day. I'm down to nothing," he said.
"I was seeing a psychiatrist once a month. Him and I have decided we don't need to see each other unless I really need to.
"Lola has really changed my life."
Lola has really changed my life.Veteran Michael Nobes on his assistance dog.
Lola is trained in deep pressure therapy, which helps Mr Nobes when he has nightmares.
"I use to suffer really bad nightmares before I got her, where I'd kick and punch out in the middle of the night," he said.
"Lola sleeps at a crate at the bottom of my bed and she'll jump up on the bed and lay across my feet. She just brings me back down to a calm level.
"Once she knows I've settled, she'll jump off and go back to my bed. She'll do that three or four times through the night.
Mr Nobes said its great that the dogs being made more accessible will make a big difference for veterans.
"People think it's a lot of money and someone else is better off with them, but I think it's time veterans start to put themselves first and say, 'I need one too'," he said.