This bill — the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act — would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to start a five-year pilot program providing service dogs to veterans who have served since 9/11 and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Service dogs would come from certified providers who would offer follow-up support services for the rest of the dog’s life. Veterans would also be provided with veterinary health insurance to care for their furry friends.
To remain in the program, veterans must see a primary care or mental healthcare provider at a VA facility at least quarterly. The pilot program would cost $10 million in each fiscal year from 2017 through 2022, and to offset that cost Congress would reduce the VA’s administrative spending by $10 million each of those years.
Under current law the VA provides service dogs for physically disabled veterans, but not for those who are living with PTSD.