U.S. House of Representatives approves bill that would pair veterans with service dogs

A bill, co-sponsored by Democratic politician Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Republican Steve Stivers of Ohio, would fundamentally change the way that service dogs are assigned to U.S. military veterans. The bill, called the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act was recently unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

What the PAWS Act does

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The act establishes a pilot program, sponsored by the VA, wherein veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, are taught how to train service dogs. The best part, when the training is over, the veteran can adopt the service dog to keep working with them to help with their PTSD. All-in-all, the bill had 324 cosponsors from both sides of the House by the time it reached the House floor.

Supporting military veterans

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“When we make the decision to send young men and women to fight for our country, we make the decision to support them for the rest of their lives,” Slotkin said.

“This is a non-partisan responsibility, which is why I am proud to co-lead this bill in the House, and why I’m thrilled there is such strong bipartisan support for this legislation to help connect veterans with service dogs in their communities and, through both training and adoption, improve veterans’ mental health and well-being.”

Developing a partnership between the VA and non-profit organizations

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If passed by the senate, the VA will partner with non-profit organizations that work with veterans and service dogs across the country. The goal, to create work-therapy programs where veterans are at the center of training efforts, including such skills as blocking. Blocking helps a veteran maintain the personal space that they need in public.

Blue Star Service Dogs

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One such organization is Blue Star Service Dogs in Pinckney, Michigan. Founded in 2010, Blue Star Service Dogs works with military veterans to pair them with the right dog for their needs. Blue Star Service Dogs is set to directly benefit from the PAWS Act and endorsed the legislation.

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“We’re so excited to see the PAWS Act pass the House with bipartisan support,” said Christine Myran, executive director of Blue Star Service Dogs. “The veteran-focused pilot program this legislation establishes through the VA would support veterans’ access to service dogs – supporting the work of organizations like ours who are working to help veterans heal.

It’s important to make support and resources available wherever veterans may need it, and this bill will help more veterans get connected with service dogs in their communities.”

Veteran suicides in the U.S. are a rising problem

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Anywhere from 11 to 30 percent of military veterans nationwide suffer from the effects of PTSD. On average, 17 veterans die by suicide each day, making programs, such as the PAWS Act even more important in the lives of affected veterans.

Check out this video with more on how the PAWS Act is set to make a difference in the lives of veterans across the country.

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Source: BlazeTV

H/T: Humane Society