House passes bill to allow VA to fund service dogs for veterans with PTSD

House passes bill to allow VA to fund service dogs for veterans with PTSD

by Steve Beynon
Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON – House lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that would lay the groundwork for the Department of Veterans Affairs to start funding service dog programs and connect veterans with canines that could be critical for their mental health care.

The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act authored by Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, would kick-off a pilot program to issue federal grants to nonprofits that provide service dogs to veterans suffering from mental health issues, and require the VA to assess the effectiveness of dog therapy.

“Our veterans fought for our freedom, and I’ve heard from many veterans who say that’s exactly what their service dog gives them – freedom. They’re free to go to restaurants, to fly on planes, to go to the movies, things that post-traumatic stress [disorder] had made impossible,” Stivers said.

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