For Immediate Release
Senate Unanimously Passes PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act
S. 613 to Address Post Deployment Mental Health
Washington, DC (August 6, 2021)–
Today, the US Senate unanimously passed S.613 [congress.gov], the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. The legislation requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement a 5-year pilot program that would assess the effectiveness of addressing post-deployment mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by allowing veterans with disabilities to train and adopt service dogs.
Initially introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) into the House and introduced into the Senate by Sen. Thomas Tillis (R-NC), the bill seeks to address the growing concerns across the country on veteran suicide along with access to mental health care. In 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published their annual National Veteran Suicide Prevention report [mentalhealth.va.gov] stating that 6,139 US Veterans died from suicide in 2017, and that Veteran suicide has exceeded 6,000 deaths each year from 2008 to 2017. The suicide rate for Veterans was also 1.5 times higher than the rate for non-veteran adults.
“The last 24 hours and the passing of the PAWS Act by the US Senate represent many years of effort and sacrifice by our disabled military veterans in their fight for recognition of service dogs as a treatment option,” said Jeremiah Blocker, Executive Director of Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. “We are grateful to leaders in Congress who supported our veterans by passing this important legislation. Veterans’ lives will be saved, quality of life will improve and positive outcomes will result from the passage of the PAWS Act.”
The PAWS Act discusses eligibility for programs to ensure qualified organizations are providing service dogs to veterans. Organizations that have a proven track record and accountability from a governing body like, The Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans.
Concluding its annual National Service Dogs for Veterans Conference last month, ASDPMV has announced the 2022 conference will be held in San Antonio, Texas, July 20-22, 2021. The conference brings together organizations that provide service dogs to military veterans and presents best practices and innovative ways to collaborate and serve veterans who seek service dogs for their mental and physical health needs. To find out more about their efforts and the 2022 conference, visit www.servicedogs4vets.org/conference.
About The Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans: 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.
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