The Old Mans comment on how to support legislation to bring the benefit and comfort of service dogs to deserving Veterans.
I fight the demons of PTSD, emotional stress and anxiety every day. The Old Man spent time with the doctors and took the medications as ways to combat the horrors of the war in Vietnam. That wasn’t always enough. Yet I survive. I have a strong relationship with my wife and children and grandchildren. My Family helps keep me centered; they keep me focused and they endure my mood swings and anxiety. I added another, my dog, to this life saving relationship.
I have had dogs as companions for more than 30 years. That was 30 years ago when I denied being in service, denied being in Vietnam. Since then that has changed! Through it all I survive now because of all of them!
Not every Veteran is as blessed as I am. Often there is not a family support group ready to assist the Veteran. Often the feelings of confusion, loneliness, self doubt and survivors guilt overwhelm the strongest. Veterans left by themselves succumb to thoughts and, unfortunately, acts of suicide. That is why the facts are that 20 Veterans per day commit suicide, according to the Veterans Administration.
The Old Man is passionate about the connection between Veterans and their service dogs. Whether they support a physical or emotional need the connection is a life saving venture. Today there are dogs who are ready, willing and able to become service dogs! They become companions to ease the burden for a Veteran. The dog is companion, guardian and protector of life. Consequently the service dog sustains the Veteran and improves the quality of life.
It takes patience, training and funding to match the right Veteran to the right service dog . The charitable organizations that perform this work rely on the contributions of concerned groups and individual persons. Demand far outweighs supply and necessary funding is limited. As a result, the waiting lists are growing!Have you supported PAWS? Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act of 2016 Click To Tweet
There are, before the Congress, two bills that will compel the Veterans Administration to provide funding and support for the connection of a service dog and a Veteran.
Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2016 – HR 4764
“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”.
Congressman Ron DeSantis, Representative for Florida’s 6th congressional district introduced this bill in March 2016. The bill has 102 co-sponsors.
Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2016 – S. 3132
“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”.
This is the companion bill in the Senate. The bill was introduced July, 2016 by Senator Deb Fischer, Senior Senator from Nebraska with 6 co-sponsors.
Currently both bills are under consideration. The process begins with the introduction and the reading of the bill in committee. The committee will report and move the bill to the full House or Senate for review and vote. After the vote in the Senate and the House the bill, in its final form, is forwarded to the President for signature.
To give you insight, The Old Man offers an overview of the key provisions of the bills.
- 14 percent of the Armed Forces returning from active duty service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Animals such as dogs can buffer this stress response when humans fail to provide social support.
- Interaction with dogs has been shown to modulate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
A veteran who:
- Has served on active duty in the Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001;
- Is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder rated at a severity level.
- Has been treated and has completed an established evidence-based treatment and remains significantly symptomatic.
- Has not experienced satisfactory improvement in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms after being treated with established evidence-based therapies.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs:
- Acting through the Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, shall carry out a 5 year pilot program.
- Shall provide to eligible veterans a service dog.
- The provision of a service dog under the pilot program shall be done in addition to other types of treatment provided for post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Shall not replace established treatment modalities.
- Shall furnish veterinary health insurance for each dog provided under the pilot program.
The pilot program:
- shall enter into such contracts as may be necessary for the procurement and training of service dogs that are certified by Assistance Dogs International or a similar organization.
- provide one-on-one training for each service canine for a minimum of 30 hours over at least 90 days including a wellness verification from a licensed veterinarian.
- provide an in-house residential facility where the veteran and dog stay for a minimum of ten days while receiving at least 30 hours of training.
- will require all service canines pass the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test prior to permanent placement with a recipient.
- will provide follow-up support service for the life of the service canine.
NOTE: Limitation of funds: No more than $27,000 for the procurement and training of any dog under a contract.
The Old Man has provided you a lot to read and understand.
My purpose is to educate and urge you to support the legislation. Strong support moves the legislation. Show your support! I urge you to reach out to your local Congressman and Senator and let them know you support these bills.
This is a link to Common Cause where you can contact your Congressman and Senator. Reach out to them.
Therefore, now that you know, let your voice be heard! Click on the link! Know that you will make a difference in the life of a Veteran.