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.