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senate Bill S. 1014

Should a VA Grant Program Connect Vets Suffering From PTSD With Service Dogs?

Argument in favor

Service dogs can be an immense benefit to the person they’re paired with, and that’s especially true of veterans with PTSD, and the VA should offer grants to help.

05/30/2017
As a Veteran who fought in Afghanistan and now suffers with PTSD as a direct result of the combat I experienced during my deployment, I can't even begin to express the difference having a service dog would make in my quality of life and mental well being.
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Michael's Opinion
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05/30/2017
Caring for our veterans is NOT an entitlement, as one of your bond-headed colleagues claimed. We OWE these men and women all the support and access to services humanly possible. They risk their lives, their health and their mental and emotional welfare to keep us safe. The least we can do is take care of them. As we promised to do.
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Janice 's Opinion
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05/30/2017
It is proven that service dogs assist in PTSD. Why wouldn't we offer them to service members? No brainer.
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Argument opposed

The VA shouldn’t use its resources to provide veterans suffering from PTSD with access to service dogs.

Mart's Opinion
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05/30/2017
Not that's it's a bad idea, but giving a good idea to the VA makes it a terrible idea. This should be allowed under health insurance as a legitimate treatment
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Lynne's Opinion
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05/30/2017
I'm with Mart. This is a good idea but not as a grant program. What happens when the money runs out? Let's make it part of the health care program. And while we're at it, let's have the military do a better job hooking vets up with services. The services are out there but too many vets don't take advantage. CalVets has been amazing. Their health care saved my husband's life and their waiver program paid most of the tuition for our kids' college.
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operaman's Opinion
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05/30/2017
The VA is not in the "V" veterinarian business and the VA can't even handle their own business. The VA will be buying trained dogs instead of training doctors and nurses. Service pets may be great and appears to comfort PTSD patients, so allow private service organizations to provide and train the dogs. P.S. I see many kinds of dogs with Vets holding signs saying "homeless vet" sitting on doorways or walking at stop signs begging for money as they smoke a cigarette. The last time I purchased dog food, it was expensive. God bless our Vets and their pet, but walking the streets and begging?
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What is Senate Bill S. 1014?

This bill — known as the Puppies Assisting Wounded Veterans (or PAWS) Act — would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a five-year pilot program to provide service dogs to veterans diagnosed with and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The program would function by connecting eligible veterans with nonprofit organizations that are certified in training service dogs meet certain standards, and providing the nonprofit with a grant of $25,000 for each eligible veteran it trains a service dog to pair with.

The VA would have to review and approve qualifying veterans’ applications within 90 days, and veterans paired with service dogs would have to see a VA healthcare provider or clinical team at least once every 180 days to verify that they’d continue to benefit from a service dog.

Among the qualifications the service dog trainer would need to fulfill include:

  • Certification by Assistance Dogs International;

  • Provide, on average, 30 hours or more of one-on-one training for each service dog and recipient over the course of 90 or more days;

  • Obtain a wellness checkup from a licensed veterinarian for each dog;

  • Ensure all service dogs pass the American Kennel Club Community Canine test and the Assistance Dogs International Public Access test before they’re permanently placed;

  • Provide follow-up services for the life of the service dog that includes a contact plan that allows the veteran and organization

Funding for the program would total $10 million and would be funded through money appropriated to the human resources and administration of the VA.

Impact

Veterans suffering from PTSD and their would-be service dogs; service dog trainers; and the VA.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1014

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced this bill to help improve the quality of life for veterans suffering from PTSD by providing them with access to service dogs:

“Veterans with PTSD may have left the battlefield, but they are still in a tough fight. Service dogs can provide support, peace, and joy to these Americans as they confront the invisible scars of war. Through the PAWS Act, we can bring our veterans relief by offering them hope.”

Lead cosponsor, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), concurred and added:

“We owe a deep debt to veterans who have so bravely defended our liberties. Service dogs can be an effective approach to supporting veterans who are struggling with PTSD or other combat-related illnesses, just as they have shown to be effective for physically disabled veterans.”

 

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Sr. Airman Christina Brownlow - USAF / Creative Commons)

AKA

PAWS Act of 2017

Official Title

A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make grants to eligible organizations to provide service dogs to veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedMay 3rd, 2017
    As a Veteran who fought in Afghanistan and now suffers with PTSD as a direct result of the combat I experienced during my deployment, I can't even begin to express the difference having a service dog would make in my quality of life and mental well being.
    Like (433)
    Follow
    Share
    Not that's it's a bad idea, but giving a good idea to the VA makes it a terrible idea. This should be allowed under health insurance as a legitimate treatment
    Like (149)
    Follow
    Share
    Caring for our veterans is NOT an entitlement, as one of your bond-headed colleagues claimed. We OWE these men and women all the support and access to services humanly possible. They risk their lives, their health and their mental and emotional welfare to keep us safe. The least we can do is take care of them. As we promised to do.
    Like (141)
    Follow
    Share
    It is proven that service dogs assist in PTSD. Why wouldn't we offer them to service members? No brainer.
    Like (75)
    Follow
    Share
    I'm with Mart. This is a good idea but not as a grant program. What happens when the money runs out? Let's make it part of the health care program. And while we're at it, let's have the military do a better job hooking vets up with services. The services are out there but too many vets don't take advantage. CalVets has been amazing. Their health care saved my husband's life and their waiver program paid most of the tuition for our kids' college.
    Like (71)
    Follow
    Share
    The program would function by connecting eligible veterans with nonprofit organizations that are certified in training service dogs meet certain standards, and providing the nonprofit with a grant of $25,000 for each eligible veteran it trains a service dog to pair with. The plan sounds like a good one. I do hope the VA doesn't screw it up. It has been proven that pets, especially dogs, can be very comforting, calming, and reassuring for anyone with a mental disability, as well as for seniors and anyone dealing with some kind of trauma.
    Like (47)
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    Pets offer the one thing that Vets need most; unconditional love. If only humanity could learn that trait there would be no need for war!
    Like (43)
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    This is one of the few win/win scenarios we will have.
    Like (36)
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    There are very good non-profit programs that merit grants. I am all for helping the veterans in any way needed. Some have benefited greatly. I would approve certified programs that offer TRUE data and results.
    Like (27)
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    I believe service dogs could cut the need for psychiatric services for vets.
    Like (22)
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    The medical benefits of service animals, especially with people suffering from PTSD, is hard to overstate. Let's continue give America's veterans access to the most effective means of treating mental health issues. It's the least we can do.
    Like (21)
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    Should help to reduce the number of suicides
    Like (19)
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    The VA is not in the "V" veterinarian business and the VA can't even handle their own business. The VA will be buying trained dogs instead of training doctors and nurses. Service pets may be great and appears to comfort PTSD patients, so allow private service organizations to provide and train the dogs. P.S. I see many kinds of dogs with Vets holding signs saying "homeless vet" sitting on doorways or walking at stop signs begging for money as they smoke a cigarette. The last time I purchased dog food, it was expensive. God bless our Vets and their pet, but walking the streets and begging?
    Like (17)
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    PTSD is a very debilitating disorder that often renders a person unable to cope in very specific circumstances. Anything that enhances and improves the life and coping skills of a suffer of PTSD should be available. Considering that special needs dogs can add to the quality of life of the suffer of this disorder they should be provide just as though the dog were a medical device.
    Like (13)
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    The research on service animals is just getting started, in terms of a scientific timeline, but the power of a well-matched animal and handler duo is unprecedented. It costs money, yes. But it also will lower mental health incidentals and dramatically increase the quality of life for veterans suffering from PTSD. This is one of the best forms of support we can offer our vets.
    Like (11)
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    Service personnel suffering from PTSD benefit greatly from the use of service animals!
    Like (10)
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    I vote yes on this if it will not cause something as beneficial to be cut in order to fund. It would cost a lot of money. Otherwise, there is no downside to matching vets to service dogs.
    Like (10)
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    I have seen firsthand the positive effects brought about by assistance dogs and read about many training programs including vets. The benefits are tremendous; there are so many dogs who need homes and would be proud to serve in this way; and our vets deserve this. It's a win:win.
    Like (9)
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    This is a wonderful idea. Service dogs could provide so much comfort and support to suffering veterans. Some have raised what seem to be legitimate concerns about the best way to implement such a plan. I'm a little unclear about the logistics and what would be the best way to accomplish this myself, but I definitely support the concept. Maybe start with this grant program as a trial while a more permanent solution is developed? Do whatever would work and get this started. Just thinking about this happening makes me smile. Helping those in need is what our government is supposed to do!
    Like (8)
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    Our veterans deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and receive the help they need.
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