Congress can help more veterans with PTSD get service dogs

We’ve all seen videos of ecstatic, crying pups welcoming their service members home. And it’s okay; we also have a little tears in our eyes.

So it is obvious that our wounded and disabled veterans should of course have unprecedented access to medical and therapeutic treatment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially when it comes to animal maintenance and support.

The PAWS law

A bill currently being released in the Senate under the name Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) would make it much easier for veterans, especially those suffering from it, to access therapeutic K-9 animals severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Currently, Veterans Affairs pays a large portion of the cost of acquiring a service dog for veterans with physical disabilities, but not for those with PTSD.

Many studies have shown that dogs can help soldiers with PTSD. Photo credit: Instagram / k9sforwarriors

The bill is bipartisan legislation brought up by Congressman Deb Fischer of Nebraska. It would give millions of dollars to the Office of Veterans Affairs (VA) to connect veterans, especially those with PTSD, to animals.

The VA has consistently refused to recognize the many benefits of animals with emotional support in treating PTSD. The agency has also provided service animal-only, non-animal, funding to provide emotional support to service members with PTSD.

Widespread approval

The bill has massive support and approval from animal rights groups and supporters of disabled veterans.

“Many disabled veterans already benefit from assistance from assistance dogs in dealing with physical disabilities. Studies are increasingly showing that service dogs also play an important role in coping with everyday situations that would otherwise prove unsustainable, ”Sheila H. Goffe, vice president of government relations for the American Kennel Club told a press release.

“This program is a humane and fair way to honor veterans who have served our nation and now need our support,” added Goffe.

Groups advocating for both veterans and animal rights have shown strong support. Photo credit: Instagram / k9sforwarriors

Mike Bober, President and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, praised the bill, saying, “The emotional and physical benefits of human-animal bonding are scientifically documented, and we owe it to our veterans to give them access to service dogs, who have been specially trained for their individual needs. “

Similarly, Jeremiah Blocker, executive director of the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans, expressed the hope that the bill would be successful this time around.

“We are very pleased that the Senate is addressing this long overlooked problem. Identifying and funding service dogs for our wounded warriors is critical to meeting their needs, ”said Booker. “Our service members deserve the best treatment options available and it is important to finally recognize service dogs as a treatment option for veterans.”

How we got here

K9s for Warriors, the nation’s largest provider of service dogs for disabled veterans and a long-time proponent of such bills, has expressed its support for the move.

“Passing the PAWS Act would be a victory for all American heroes suffering from the invisible wound of PTSD,” said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s for Warriors. “This symbolizes hope – not just for veterans themselves, but for everyone who loves them and is dying to help them get their lives back.”

Congressman John Rutherford, who brought an earlier version of the PAWS bill to the House in 2019, has also pledged his support. Its earlier version ultimately failed.

“It is heartbreaking to see twenty veterans lose their lives every day,” Rutherford said in a statement. “We need to do more to help people with PTSD and other service-related trauma. Providing veterans with service dogs is a proven therapy for PTSD … The PAWS Act will support organizations that match service dogs with veterans to help our war fighters lead productive and prosperous lives once they return to civilian life. “

Photo credit: Facebook / PAWSAct

What’s on the bill?

The bill provides grants of up to $ 25,000 for a wounded warrior to find a forever furry friend. The bill would provide $ 10 million over the three-year course of the program.

It seems that Veterans Affairs is finally changing the course of a bill that has already been brought to the table several times in various forms, none of which has been passed.

We have documented some special moments between puppies and their soldiers:

We will keep an eye on the progress of the invoice and keep you updated.

H / T: k9sforwarriors

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