The PAWS Act of 2019 – a bill designed to provide funding for service dogs for veterans - was introduced to Congress on June 5th by Florida Congressman John Rutherford. If passed, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act will require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a $25,000 voucher for a service dog to veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
An excerpt from our press release explains more:
“The intent of the bill is to make service dogs more accessible to all veterans wanting an alternative PTSD treatment option, to help reduce the veteran suicide rate of 20 per day and enable them to reintegrate successfully into society. Currently, the VA does not fund service dogs or recognize the use of service dogs as a viable method to treat PTSD. Nonprofit organizations like K9s For Warriors train and supply service dogs for qualifying veterans.”
K9s For Warriors CEO, Rory Diamond, says “The PAWS Act passing would be a victory for all American heroes suffering from the invisible wound of PTSD. This symbolizes hope – not only for veterans themselves, but for everyone who loves them and is desperate to help them reclaim their lives.”
The VA estimates that 11-20 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD, 12% of Gulf War veterans have PTSD, and 30% of Vietnam veterans have PTSD. Additionally, other, non-combat veterans have PTSD resulting from traumas such as military sexual assault.1
If passed, the PAWS Act would direct the VA to grant a voucher to each qualifying veteran to take to a service dog organization of their choosing that adheres to national standards set by the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans (ASDPMV).
Jeremiah Blocker, Executive Director of ASDPMV, explains that those national standards are “created and maintained by the leading experts in providing service dogs to military veterans. Our Association and members are proud to have created this National Standard.”
A coalition of non-profit service dog providers for military Veterans, ASDPMV was founded partly by K9s For Warriors.
For updates on the PAWS Act, you can check back here, and follow our social media and news page.
Supporters should contact their elected member of Congress to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 3103. You can find the current list of Co-Sponsors here: congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3103/cosponsors.
ASDPMV’s National Standards can be found here: servicedogs4vets.org/service-dogs-national-standards.
Find out up-to-date information from Congress about The PAWS Act here: www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3103
- U.S. Dept. of VA National Center for PTSD: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_veterans.asp