Service Dogs for Veterans
Service dogs raise their masters' sense of well-being. They help reduce depression, ward off panic attacks, and assist when their owner needs help standing back up after falling. In many cases, these dogs are the difference between a decent life and a difficult one for veterans living with service-related injuries. Just as importantly, they can provide a huge return on investment, lessening the need for human care, medication, and allowing our veterans to return to work. Unfortunately, only a very small number of these service dogs were available to veterans, so Senator Franken introduced legislation to help remedy this problem.
Further, Sen. Franken attached an amendment to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill that directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately begin the process of assisting veterans with physical and, for the first time, mental illnesses, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who would benefit from having a service dog. It also provides $2 million in medical services for the program and additional funds for research and VA Inspector General oversight.
The Service Dogs for Veterans Act, cosponsored by Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a pilot program working in partnership with non-profit service dog agencies to pair service dogs with veterans with physical and mental injuries and disabilities, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Senator Franken’s bill was included as an amendment to the National Defense and Authorization Act that passed the Senate on July 23, 2009, and was subsequently signed into law by the President.