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senate Bill S. 3132

Should the VA Provide Service Dogs to Vets With PTSD?

Argument in favor

For some veterans, PTSD poses just as great a challenge as overcoming physical wounds. Service dogs can help in the healing process, so the VA needs to provide them to veterans with PTSD like it does for those who are physically disabled.

07/23/2016
Absolutely. This absolutely needs to happen. For anyone who has been using Countable for a while now, for anyone who has read my endorsements on various Military or Terrorism or Veteran related issues, for any of my followers, will know that I am a Combat Veteran suffering with PTSD. Since February 26th 2012 I have been coping with, learning to live with, and manage, life with PTSD. After my deployment to Afghanistan I was sent to the Warrior Transition Unit in Fort Knox, KY for 13 months as I was screened, treated for, and diagnosed with this disability. During my time there, I had more Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, than I can remember. At one point, I was prescribed 11 different medications. I was in group therapy with other Veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD and even hospitalized at one point. When it got to the point when no one knew what to do with me any longer, I was picked as one of ten Soldiers to have a service dog for eight weeks. For those eight weeks when it was me and my service dog, I felt on top of the world. All my issues and the problems that all these professionals had spent months trying to untangle, this dog was doing me more good than any treatment which had been attempted up to that point. Then, the eight weeks had passed, I said goodbye to my service dog, and all the progress I had made came undone. Since then, I have looked into getting a service dog and every time I get told the same thing. Forget it. Don’t even think about it. The wait list is too long. So life goes on and I learn to deal with it. The reason why I am sharing this with you is because I want to illustrate the point that yes, having a service dog for someone dealing with PTSD has tremendous benefits that no pill could ever hope to reproduce. Now, I will also say that yes, unfortunately, there are Veterans out there who have been falsely diagnosed with PTSD. I say this because I seen it firsthand. People that game the system, intentionally lie about their experiences, all for the intent of securing a disability rating and the benefits which come with it. More often than not, they are successful. So if this were to happen, there are measures that need to be implemented which ensures that only Veterans with a genuine need are provided with a service dog. What those checks might be, I don’t know. But they need to be developed, implemented, and followed. Otherwise this will fall on its face and the guy who never left the wire, sat in the USO every night watching movies or playing video games, but yet who claims PTSD will get a service dog over the guy who still cries at night because of the Soldiers he lost in a single afternoon and the burden of guilt which comes from feeling like he failed those men in a place on a map that doesn’t even matter anymore.
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Jim's Opinion
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07/23/2016
Dogs can be a wonderful tool to help. The veterans deserve all the help we can give them.
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07/23/2016
This would be a good initiative for the government to lead. However, I believe it is a must that we keep the involvement very minimal. The last thing we need is for our government paying for these animals. Maybe sponsoring a program such as and helping our veterans have access to the program, but that should be the farthest it should reach.
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Argument opposed

Just because disabled veterans get access to service dogs through the VA doesn’t mean that veterans suffering from PTSD should get the same access.

Nathan's Opinion
···
07/23/2016
This is a great idea -- for the private sector. Why don't we let The Humane Society lead this? I think vets need this, but I don't trust the federal government to manage it efficiently.
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William's Opinion
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07/23/2016
I love the idea being a vet myself. However the VA fails at everything when it comes to the medical sector. If a private sector, veteran ran organization took this challenge on then it might work.
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Joey's Opinion
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07/24/2016
Perhaps pay for an adoption, but for PTSD most dogs fron the shelter would do just as well as a trained dog.
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What is Senate Bill S. 3132?

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.

Impact

Veterans with PTSD; certified service dog providers; and the VA.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 3132

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced this bill to give veterans with PTSD heal by providing them with service dogs through the VA:

“Our wounded warriors have made tremendous sacrifices for their country. Many bear invisible wounds and struggle each day to make it to the next. I’m proud to join Senator Booker to introduce the PAWS Act. Our bill would bring the joys and love of man’s best friend to help our veterans cope with the scars of war.”

This legislation currently has the support of six bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.


Of Note: A 2012 assessment by the VA found that almost 30 percent of post-9/11 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and have received treatment at VA facilities have been diagnosed with PTSD, and more than 350,000 have sought support for PTSD at the VA.

Research has shown that bonding with dogs helps mitigate PTSD symptoms by improving “trust, the ability to interpret facial expressions, the overcoming of paranoia and other pro-social effects.” The VA had been conducting a four-year study of its own on using service dogs to treat veterans with PTSD, but it has been questioned because of small sample sizes and training techniques.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: By Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo, U.S. Dept. of Defense, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21503854)

AKA

Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2016

Official Title

A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to provide service dogs to certain veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

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
    IntroducedJuly 6th, 2016
    Absolutely. This absolutely needs to happen. For anyone who has been using Countable for a while now, for anyone who has read my endorsements on various Military or Terrorism or Veteran related issues, for any of my followers, will know that I am a Combat Veteran suffering with PTSD. Since February 26th 2012 I have been coping with, learning to live with, and manage, life with PTSD. After my deployment to Afghanistan I was sent to the Warrior Transition Unit in Fort Knox, KY for 13 months as I was screened, treated for, and diagnosed with this disability. During my time there, I had more Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, than I can remember. At one point, I was prescribed 11 different medications. I was in group therapy with other Veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD and even hospitalized at one point. When it got to the point when no one knew what to do with me any longer, I was picked as one of ten Soldiers to have a service dog for eight weeks. For those eight weeks when it was me and my service dog, I felt on top of the world. All my issues and the problems that all these professionals had spent months trying to untangle, this dog was doing me more good than any treatment which had been attempted up to that point. Then, the eight weeks had passed, I said goodbye to my service dog, and all the progress I had made came undone. Since then, I have looked into getting a service dog and every time I get told the same thing. Forget it. Don’t even think about it. The wait list is too long. So life goes on and I learn to deal with it. The reason why I am sharing this with you is because I want to illustrate the point that yes, having a service dog for someone dealing with PTSD has tremendous benefits that no pill could ever hope to reproduce. Now, I will also say that yes, unfortunately, there are Veterans out there who have been falsely diagnosed with PTSD. I say this because I seen it firsthand. People that game the system, intentionally lie about their experiences, all for the intent of securing a disability rating and the benefits which come with it. More often than not, they are successful. So if this were to happen, there are measures that need to be implemented which ensures that only Veterans with a genuine need are provided with a service dog. What those checks might be, I don’t know. But they need to be developed, implemented, and followed. Otherwise this will fall on its face and the guy who never left the wire, sat in the USO every night watching movies or playing video games, but yet who claims PTSD will get a service dog over the guy who still cries at night because of the Soldiers he lost in a single afternoon and the burden of guilt which comes from feeling like he failed those men in a place on a map that doesn’t even matter anymore.
    Like (49)
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    This is a great idea -- for the private sector. Why don't we let The Humane Society lead this? I think vets need this, but I don't trust the federal government to manage it efficiently.
    Like (98)
    Follow
    Share
    Dogs can be a wonderful tool to help. The veterans deserve all the help we can give them.
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    This would be a good initiative for the government to lead. However, I believe it is a must that we keep the involvement very minimal. The last thing we need is for our government paying for these animals. Maybe sponsoring a program such as and helping our veterans have access to the program, but that should be the farthest it should reach.
    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
    I love the idea being a vet myself. However the VA fails at everything when it comes to the medical sector. If a private sector, veteran ran organization took this challenge on then it might work.
    Like (16)
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    I attended a conference last month at the University of San Diego called Serving Those Who Serve, there i met a women who had served as a nurse in the army for many years. She came back from Iraq and suppressed symptoms of PTSD for years before finally seeking help. She now has a service dog which she credits an enormous amount of her mental health to. She has become a huge advocate for mental health services including service dogs for veterans. She told a story of a veteran she knew who one day planned to kill himself out in the desert, but the thought of leaving his service dog behind kept him alive.
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    I've visited VA hospitals with my therapy dogs. Being with our wounded warriors and seeing their eyes light up by the unconditional love of a dog is priceless! No drug can do what a four legged friend does! My dogs also have been working with autistic children for over 15 years. The impact the dogs have on the children's lives cannot be documented but it's success is measured by the impact in the child's life and in their family when you speak to their mom and dad. Yes, to service dogs! They provide companionship and love a prescription cannot. Plus the dog provides responsibility and unconditional love!
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    I wonder why this isn't already being done! Oh, wait, this is the VA we're talking about. I wonder how many veterans suffering from PTSD will commit suicide before the VA gets around to even seeing the veterans who would benefit from a service dog! This program would help so many! Service dogs have proven themselves invaluable in countless situations. They are very sensitive to their owners' mental and physical conditions that often go unnoticed by other people. Moreover, they are completely nonjudgmental and give unconditional love to the people who need it most. They alleviate a lot of suffering and save lives! I think this bill needs to pass; I just worry that the VA is too messed up to implement the program in a timely manner. The waiting times for our veterans is a NATIONAL SHAME! As for the administrators at the top who oversee the activities and policies of the VA, like those of most, if not all, of our federal agencies, I suspect they need term limits like our Congressmen (and women)! Some of them probably should be removed, if not prosecuted! There is far too much CORRUPTION, FEATHERBEDDING, and LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY in our government agencies!
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    The Veterans Administration needs to be escalating proper leadership to ensure the necessary medical resources and technology needed for the care of our fellow bravest men and women. The veterans administration would be promoting innovative resources to ensure the well being of veterans. It would be a step in the productive direction if the organization exemplified competence in truly investing in matters to alleviate veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder). Generally speaking, unique forms of species for instance a dog would be a distribution of pleasure of veterans to put aside their stress and past memories and interact with an organism that cares for there Social and mental needs as well. As most of you have known the veterans administration has evidently been accurately painted as an organization that dose not take the initiative to achieve the due diligence to satisfy the health of our desperate veterans. If this implementation were to be increased dogs would be promoting future prosperity for veterans to overcome their social, mental obstructions and replace them with pleasure and well being due to the contingency of the veterans administration in a certain manner REDEEMING THEMSELVES! Thank you for your time.
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    Perhaps pay for an adoption, but for PTSD most dogs fron the shelter would do just as well as a trained dog.
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    Too many people don't have access to therapy. Having a dog might help their day to day activities, but we still have to be very cautious of the extra fees that might come with having a pet. A thorough research about the (possible) impacts of this legislation needs to be held.
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    Service dogs can be helpful for those with stress or depression, both symptoms of PTSD.
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    Service dogs are proven effective in helping ease symptoms of PTSD. Dependence on medication is also reduced.
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    I'm not sure that it's within the role of the government to mandate that dogs are given.
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    The cost of this program will be far outweighed by the mental health benefits to veterans.
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    Yes. Anything to ease the suffering of people YOU sent to war over NOTHING should be done.
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    I agree with this and believe it would make a big difference and I am kind of surprised and dissapointed they aren't already and that it takes federal legislation to make it happen. I agree with others concerns that when a huge burocracy like the va or federal government manages something it is hard to be successful. Since this is a pilot program I would support it and encourage the implementors to find ways to do it through outside organizations that are trying different things and have lots of experience.
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    It should be worked into our daily life as a form of therapy. Dogs or pets provide stability with a routine and companionship. Unfortunately because of the failure of the VA to accurately build a patient care plan that suits our daily schedules, this valuable and critical need for service animals gets ignored for pharmacology and 12 step style programs.
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    These dogs can be great comfort to a veteran with PSTD. They are also very expensive, so a lot of veterans can't afford them. If the VA was able to provide them, more veterans would be able to have this service.
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    Maybe it should fall under medication, pill or puppy, if it works, provide it.
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