This is an update to our original blog post, published on 6/12/2019.
During the week of July 22nd, we learned that the House Veterans Affairs Committee denied support of the PAWS Act of 2019, H.B. 3103 - again. As a whole, we are extremely dissapointed at yet another setback to our servicemembers getting the PTSD treatment that some of them desperately need: a service dog.
For years, we have pushed to get the PAWS Act passed. For years, we've also had scientific research published that proves service dogs work. We will keep fighting to get the PAWS Act passed, and if you also believe in the power of service dogs to help prevent veteran suicide, you can help us fight, too.
Here are instructions and two scripts for you to use to contact your Congress members:
1. Contact your local state representative by going to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
2. Type in your zip code.
3. Your representatives will be displayed, and you can choose whom to contact by clicking on their name. Most have a phone call or email option. Here’s what you can say:
Hello, my name is (your name) and I'm calling because I support the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members Act, H.B. 3103, the PAWS Act. It was introduced my Congressman John Rutherford, but the House Veterans Affairs Committee keeps saying “no.” Over 20 veterans a day die by suicide, often because they don't have access to effective treatment. Medication is not always the answer. Our government owes them a choice in their recovery of PTSD, TBI, and military sexual trauma. Service dogs cost an average of $27,000. The servicemen and woman who voluntarily fought for our freedom shouldn't have to suffer even more after coming home because they can't afford the treatment that might be best for them. Please support this life-saving initiative and vote "yes" on the PAWS Act. Thank you for your time.
Email statement (copy & paste):
Hello Mr./Mrs. (representative's name),
I'm writing to voice my support of the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members (PAWS) Act, H.B. 3103.
It was introduced by Congressman John Rutherford on June 5th, but was halted by the House Veterans Affairs Committee. With more than 20 veterans a day dying by suicide, it simply doesn’t make sense that the committee tasked with protecting them denies what is now proven to be a life-saving option to mitigate their PTSD: service dogs. Service dog organizations like K9s For Warriors have already scientifically proven that service dogs are highly successful in recovery of PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma, yet the VA healthcare system still refuses to recognize this. We must do more to save the lives and honor the sacrifice of our military heroes.
Service dogs help veterans heal. When they heal, their families heal, and they return to their communities as productive citizens, pursuing higher education and re-entering the workforce, rather than living in isolation, or worse, seeing suicide as the only way out. However, high quality service dogs come at a high price, one which most veterans could never afford on their own. The average cost of a service dog is $27,000.
Medication is not always the answer. The servicemen and women who voluntarily fought for our freedom should not have to suffer even more after their service because they can't afford the treatment that is best for them. Please support this life-saving initiative that will give veterans the option of choosing a service dog to heal from their invisible wounds. Please vote "Yes." Thank you for your time.