October 31, 2016
By Lorra B.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder strikes many veterans and Lisa McCombs is no exception. After serving honorably for four years in both Iraq and Afghanistan, it is her service dog, Jake, that she relies on to help her combat the panic and stress associated with PTSD.
Her Labrador retriever has accompanied McCombs without incident whenever she has flown but all of that “changed one year ago, when she was barred from boarding a regional American Airlines flight with Jake, who was wearing his service vest and was properly documented at the time,” reportsThe Washington Post.
According to her federal lawsuit, McCombs was attempting to fly from Manhattan to Kansas and as she was getting ready to board the plane an airline agent came up and asked “in a condescending tone, ‘ummm, are you going to fly with that?’”
Not only was McCombs reportedly humiliated she also spent the next 48 hours in limbo being interrogated and unable to return home. She was, according to the report, stressed out, ‘verbally assaulted by two agents’ to spoke loudly and rudely while insisting she explain in detail her ailments that would require her to have an accompanying service dog.
“I don’t understand why I’m being treated like this!”, McCombs cried. “He is my service dog! I have PTSD, look at me, I’m an anxious mess!”
Because McCombs became frustrated and upset and cursed aloud the Airlines threatened to have her arrested.
This nightmare went on for two days. McCombs was assured that she would be able to catch a flight the next day, with Jake, but when she tried to board the plane the exact same disaster began all over again.
McCombs for forced to book a flight with a different airline and rack up and additional costs exceeding $600.
It is McCombs contention that American Airlines violated the Disabilities Act and she wants to be compensated for the “reckless disregard” of her rights, her airline tickets, medical treatment and legal fees.
PTSD is not to be taken lightly and affects about “11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan and 20 percent of veterans of the war in Iraq,” according to the VA.
According to Service Dogs for America, specially trained service dogs can zero in on symptoms of PTSD and redirect the symptoms of panic, anxiety and nightmares by forcing their owner to focus their attentions on the animal.
American Airlines is not commenting on this issue other than to say, “The process for traveling with a service animal on American is in line with applicable federal regulations,” and that, ‘the company “appreciates and thanks Ms. McCombs for her service to our country.’”
By Lorra B.