Arooo! President Biden signed this bill on 8/25/21 and it had 312 co-sponsors.
This bill implements a program and a policy related to service dog therapy for veterans. Specifically, the bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement a five-year pilot program to provide canine training to eligible veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as an element of a complementary and integrative health program. Eligible veterans are those who are enrolled in the VA health care system and have been recommended for participation by a qualified mental health care provider or clinical team.
The VA must seek to enter agreements containing specified elements with accredited nongovernmental entities that have demonstrated ability to provide canine training.
The Government Accountability Office must brief Congress and submit a report on the program.
The bill also authorizes the VA to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses, regardless of whether they have a mobility impairment.
K9s for Warriors is one service provider. I love the fact that they rescue and train former shelter dogs or owner-surrendered pets:
“The caliber of K9s For Warriors Service Dogs is extremely high, and the procurement team spends a majority of their time communicating and traveling to shelters scouring for suitable program candidates.
The Florida-based procurement team currently travels between Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, and the Texas team at the Petco Love K9 Center pulls dogs from local San Antonio shelters.”
The VA was not eager for this bill to pass; they have about 6 months to begin the five-year pilot.
Because it takes time to pair a veteran with a trained service dog, do share this positive news with anyone in your VISN that might have an interest–providers, veterans, their families and local media. Many lives will be saved if this pilot is successful.
Laura (Guest author)