Bipartisan PAWS Act To Help Veterans With PTSD
The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act was introduced last year by Senators Cory Booker (D) from New Jersey and Deb Fischer (R) from Nebraska, but the bill was put on hold and not enacted. The Senators have not given up the fight for the ACT, however, and reintroduced the bill to congress
The bill gives guidelines for how to implement providing service dogs to the United States Military servicemembers who are diagnosed with PTSD as a result of their service. Currently, the Veterans department does not offer service members assistance dogs, citing lack of evidence that they make a difference as a reason not to fund. Service members are forced to resort to the generosity of groups like K9 For Warriors, Vets Adopt Pets and Paws For Veterans to assist them as they reintegrate back into society.
Senator Fischer said of the bill that the service dogs can provide invaluable support, joy and peace to Americans who suffer the invisible scars of war. She said that for those veterans who have visible physical disabilities, a service dog program already exists and they don’t typically have difficulty getting one.
But for those who suffer from mental health disorders as a result of war and service to one’s country, there is nothing in place. The PAWS Act would give $10-million dollars to fund a pilot program that will train and distribute dogs to veterans with PTSD for five years.
Representative Ron. DeSantis (R) of Florida supports the bill with his fellow colleagues. He said that the Department of Veterans Affairs now also supports the program, even though there is no conclusive evidence regarding PTSD and the benefit of service dogs to service members. Rep. DeSantis introduced the House version of the PAWS Act last year and says that the bill is a no-brainer with no downside.
According to DeSantis, even if the benefits of the dogs are not as great to the service member as they believe they will be, the service members get the love and friendship and companionship of a dog, and that can make a big difference in their lives.
And that difference doesn’t depend on party lines.
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