Florida Republican Congressman John Rutherford is sponsoring the bill
Washington, D.C. – The PAWs Act was introduced to Congress June 5th by Congressman John Rutherford and, if passed, will require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide service dogs to veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The bill is supported by the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans.
The intent of the bill is to make service dogs more accessible to all veterans wanting an alternative PTSD treatment option, to help reduce the veteran suicide rate of 20 per day and enable them to reintegrate successfully into society. Currently, the VA does not fund service dogs or recognize the use of service dogs as a viable method to treat PTSD.
“It is heartbreaking that twenty veterans take their own lives each day,” said Congressman Rutherford. “We must do more to help those with PTSD and other service-connected forms of trauma. Providing service dogs to veterans is a proven therapy for PTSD, but for many, the cost associated with training and raising these animals is too great. The PAWS Act will support organizations who pair service dogs with veterans to help our warfighters lead productive and successful lives once they return to civilian life.”
The VA estimates that 11-20 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD, 12% of Gulf War veterans have PTSD, and 30% of Vietnam veterans have PTSD. Additionally, other, non-combat veterans have PTSD resulting from traumas such as military sexual assault.1
“Intended funding through PAWS will be focused only on organizations that adhere to National Standards created and maintained by the leading experts in providing service dogs to military veterans,” said Jeremiah Blocker, Executive Director of the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. “Our Association and members are proud to have created this National Standard.”
The Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans (ASDPMV) is a coalition of non-profit service dog providers for military Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma working to prevent suicide and improve military Veterans’ mental health.
The goal of ASDPMV is to ensure that best practices are utilized by qualified organizations to ensure that Veterans are paired with the most beneficial service dogs; increase awareness and understanding of the medical evidence that supports the use of service dogs; and advocate for the expanded use of qualified service dogs.
You can find the latest updates about the PAWS Act H.R. 3103 at www.servicedogs4vets.org/PAWS