Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

house Bill H.R. 4305

Should the VA Fund a Dog Training Therapy Pilot Program for Wounded Vets?

Argument in favor

A recent study, along with anecdotal evidence, has shown that veterans with PTSD may benefit from having and training service dogs. This bill would help make service dogs accessible to more veterans, and would also help veterans develop a new marketable skill (training service dogs) that could benefit them in the workforce.

Dicr's Opinion
···
11/11/2019
This looks like a risk worth taking. If it pans out not only will it benefit veterans it will be beneficial for the economy.
Like (69)
Follow
Share
jimK's Opinion
···
11/11/2019
Sounds like an awesome idea. I understand the VA may be concerned with the efficacy of such a program. So, what is the problem with a pilot program over a reasonable timeline, less than a year, that quantifies the costs and benefits? Don’t just say No! There is a lot of anecdotal and related pragmatic programs that show that dogs can be helpful as companions and that the care for dogs can be therapeutic. I know of a couple of nursing homes who have noted benefits of having a dog in their facility in calming residents and improving their outlook on life through their visits with their non judgmental dog friend who’s companionship was unconditional. I think it is a very good idea and could be very helpful.
Like (56)
Follow
Share
Kayla's Opinion
···
11/11/2019
ABSOLUTELY. Our Veterans fought and in return some came back with scarring. In some cases human interaction can trigger them, but the dogs are nothing but loving and want to be loved. A dog is a mans BEST FRIEND. I mean if anything the most we can do is give them a companion that will be with them through thick and thin and won’t remind them of what they went through.
Like (48)
Follow
Share

Argument opposed

The VA remains skeptical about service dogs’ efficacy as a treatment for veterans with PTSD. Until the VA determines that service dogs are useful for veterans with PTSD, the agency shouldn’t throw money at a pilot program that could prove ineffective.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
11/11/2019
I’d rather the VA hire more people to address the backlog of care needed in many areas of the country. There are wiser ways to spend money at the VA.
Like (16)
Follow
Share
Libertarian's Opinion
···
11/11/2019
I am a disabled combat veteran, and this is what I have to say about this. I like the existing VA service dog program just fine. It’s a great program. They fund the process already. We get our dogs trained, and they cover the training. If we get an already trained dog, they pay for the dog for us. They cover medical emergencies and surgeries as well. I do want the PTSD dog program to be expanded, please. Other than that, it works well. It is very difficult for me to figure out how to get my dog certified because each VA hospital is completely different, and my VA hospital is not aware how to approach or enforce the PTSD dog certifications; even though the VA headquarters has okayed parts of the PTSD dog program. Work on better in-house communication on this. This is a good change to make. No need for changes is needed, unless your new approach of doing everything in-house will save the tax payer money. If it will not, which I suspect this change will be much more expensive, then make no changes. That’s my two cents.
Like (4)
Follow
Share
Hillary's Opinion
···
11/11/2019
Steve Stivers votes against protecting our air, water, and soil. He always votes for the improvement of big business and the detriment of "we the people". If he says this plan is good you should check it for land mines.
Like (3)
Follow
Share

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Health
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedSeptember 12th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4305?

This bill — the PAWS for Veterans Act — would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to carry out a pilot program on dog training therapy for wounded veterans. Qualifying veterans would receive vouchers to take to any service dog organization of their choosing.

To carry out this bill, the VA would partner with nonprofit organizations working with veterans and service dogs to create work-therapy programs for veterans to learn how to train dogs. Upon completion of the program, veterans would be able to adopt their dogs to provide continuing therapy.

To be eligible for grants under this bill, nonprofits would have to: 

  • Provide service dogs to veterans with PTSD;
  • Meet the national standard of the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans;
  • Have expertise in the needs of veterans with PTSD;
  • Agree to cover the costs associated with providing services if they exceed the grant amount; and
  • Agree to re-accept or replace any service dog provided to a veteran using the grant.

This bill’s full title is the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act.

Impact

Veterans; veterans with PTSD or other service-related conditions that might benefit from a service dog; veterans who want service dogs; service dog nonprofits; and the VA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4305

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) introduced this bill to create a pilot program for veterans to learn how to train therapy dogs and reap benefits from working with them

“A soldier under my command during Operation Iraqi Freedom recently told me what his service dog means to him: he was able to fly on a plane for the first time in 10 years and he took his fiancée to dinner.  That is the impact this bill can have on the lives of our veterans. I’m incredibly grateful to our coalition for their efforts to create this program, and I look forward to getting this bill signed into law so that our veterans can receive the care they need.”

In a separate statement, Rep. Stivers argued that dog training will benefit veterans’ mental health in a number of ways

“The dog training will give these veterans a new mission and that's training a dog for service. And the skills they learn in that training are something that is clinically shown to reduce the incidents of depression, to improve interpersonal relationships, to lower the risk of substance abuse, and to lower the instance of suicide.”

Rep. Stivers noted that some veterans have told him that having a service dog has helped them reduce or even cease their medications: “If you can do it with a service dog and get off the drugs, great; if you still need the drugs, that's OK, too. But we've heard anecdotally a lot of people getting off the drugs as a result of these service dogs."

Original cosponsor Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) adds that this bill is necessary in light of the 20 veterans lost to suicide each day

“Service dogs have been proven to help people suffering from a wide array of mental health issues, and that is especially true of veterans living with post-traumatic stress. And with 20 veterans dying every day by suicide, this bill isn't just about improving lives, it's about saving lives. We need to ensure that our veterans have access to every available mental health resource, and that includes service dogs. As a Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I'm proud to support this bill and will continue to fight for our veterans and ensure that they receive the high-quality care they need and deserve.”

Christopher Baity, founder and executive director of Virginia-based Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, supports this bill. He says, “This bill is essential to veterans who need psychiatric service dogs. It will ensure that the highest quality service dogs are being placed with those veterans by reputable organizations.”

Christine Myran, executive director of Blue Star Service Dogs, a nonprofit that has paired approximately 150 service dogs and veterans in Michigan, says that service dogs can be therapeutic tools to treat PTSD, and that the overall training is part of the process.

The VA is skeptical about service dogs’ ability to help veterans with PTSD. In a statement on its website, it says: 

“Currently, there is not enough research to know if dogs help treat PTSD and its symptoms. Evidence-based therapies and medications for PTSD are supported by clinical research. We encourage you to learn more about these treatments because it is difficult to draw strong conclusions from the few studies on dogs and PTSD that have been done." 

This legislation has 118 bipartisan cosponsors, including 78 Republicans and 40 Democrats.


Of NoteResearch conducted by Kaiser Permanente and Purdue University has shown that working with service dogs alleviates the symptoms of PTS, leading to better interpersonal relationships, lower risk of substance abuse, and overall better mental health. In the study, 141 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from PTSD were split into two groups, one of which received trained service dogs (75 veterans, the dog group) and the other of which was put on the waiting list to get a dog (66 veterans, the wait list group). 

At the end of the study, the dog group’s PTSD symptom scores dropped an average of 12 points while the PTSD scores of those on the waiting list hadn’t changed at all. The dog group also had numerous other indicia of improved mental health, including: 

  • Lower depression scores;
  • Better mental quality of life scores;
  • Greater satisfaction with life;
  • Higher levels of psychological well-being;
  • Better ability to cope with adversity;
  • Lower social isolation scores; and
  • Greater ability to get out and participate in social activities.

The VA has been conducting a study on the effectiveness of service dogs for over four years. Until now, Congress has wanted to wait until that study’s completion before considering legislation on increasing veterans’ access to service dogs. However, Rep. Stivers says it’s past time to take action. He says, “We can't wait anymore. We have up to 22 military and veteran suicides a day. Why should we wait?"

Prior to the current ongoing study, the VA conducted a disastrous study on service dogs’ use in treating PTSD from 2011 to 2012. The study encountered numerous problems: first, the researchers struggled to recruit subjects for the control group. Then, dogs in the study bit two children, several developed hip dysplasia, one died from heart disease, and another died from cancer.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Jason Hohnberger)

AKA

Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on dog training therapy.

    This looks like a risk worth taking. If it pans out not only will it benefit veterans it will be beneficial for the economy.
    Like (69)
    Follow
    Share
    I’d rather the VA hire more people to address the backlog of care needed in many areas of the country. There are wiser ways to spend money at the VA.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    Sounds like an awesome idea. I understand the VA may be concerned with the efficacy of such a program. So, what is the problem with a pilot program over a reasonable timeline, less than a year, that quantifies the costs and benefits? Don’t just say No! There is a lot of anecdotal and related pragmatic programs that show that dogs can be helpful as companions and that the care for dogs can be therapeutic. I know of a couple of nursing homes who have noted benefits of having a dog in their facility in calming residents and improving their outlook on life through their visits with their non judgmental dog friend who’s companionship was unconditional. I think it is a very good idea and could be very helpful.
    Like (56)
    Follow
    Share
    ABSOLUTELY. Our Veterans fought and in return some came back with scarring. In some cases human interaction can trigger them, but the dogs are nothing but loving and want to be loved. A dog is a mans BEST FRIEND. I mean if anything the most we can do is give them a companion that will be with them through thick and thin and won’t remind them of what they went through.
    Like (48)
    Follow
    Share
    Let's do this for our Veterans PTSD is a horrible thing and sometimes you need someone to pull you up. A rescue dog would be that savior for a suffering Veteran.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course, anything that reduces the VA system dependence on prescription drugs for treatment.
    Like (30)
    Follow
    Share
    Dogs help people heal!!
    Like (30)
    Follow
    Share
    Dogs benefit people both physically and mental and can only help those who have risked their lives for our country. More focus needs to be put on healing our veterans both mentally and physically..dogs are a great step forward in helping our veterans
    Like (28)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, there is a body of research available that shows dog training therapy works. This bill would allow to not only sponsor research to fine tune the training but also expand its availability.
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    We need to do everything possible for returning vets. 22 vets a day still committing suicide.
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    YES! And hopefully this will be the start of treating our veterans better than we have been.
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes. I’m a therapist. Animal therapy is incredible
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely, often the dog would be the only friend and helpmate for these vets 🐾🐾❤️🇺🇸
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    I don’t see how anyone could be against this program. With as much money as the VA wastes it is well worth the cost, it’s better than pushing pills the way they do for PTS.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes Definitely! An amazing gift from these wonderful creatures to some of our vulnerable brothers and sisters.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    Vets deserve whatever it takes to help them.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    Without question! Therapy dogs have proven to be successful and, certainly, would augment the treatment that we owe our veterans!!!
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes! We now have plenty of evidence that relationships with animals (esp. dogs and horses) provide healing for all kinds of injuries and life challenges.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    Should not even have to be asked...
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    Should be part of any therapy program.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    MORE