As a day of reflection, Memorial Day, calls to mind  family and friends who have dedicated their lives to our country’s service. Sacrifice and loss color our memories with stars and stripes.More than 20 veterans a day are dying by suicide, often because they don’t have access to effective treatment options.

Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2016 was originally introduced in April 2016 by Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis. Unfortunately the bill did not receive support for passing.  The PAWS Act (H.R. 2327) was reintroduced in May 2017.

This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), through the Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, to carry out a five-year pilot program under which the VA shall provide service dogs and veterinary health insurance to certain veterans who: (1) served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001; and (2) were diagnosed with, and continue to suffer from, post-traumatic stress disorder.

The provision of a service dog shall be done in addition to other types of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and shall not replace established treatment modalities.

A growing bank of evidence is validating the efficacy of service dogs.Service dogs have proven to be  an effective treatment for recovery of PTSD, TBI, and Military Sexual Trauma. The PAWS Act would require the VA to fund service dogs as a treatment option for veterans.

How can you support the PAWS Act?

Send correspondence to your state Representative asking them to support this life-saving initiative that will give veterans the option of choosing a service dog to help heal them from their invisible wounds. Go to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and type in your zip code to display your state Representative. Please vote “YES” for H.R. 2327.

To learn more about service dogs for veterans visit https://www.k9sforwarriors.org/.

Please note:  K9 Totem Connections has presented this information in support of H.R. 2327 without  affiliation or compensation from any service dog organization.