New Law Could Provide VA-Funded Service Dogs for Veterans With PTSD
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) September 24, 2021 – A new law could provide veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder with service dogs through VA benefits for the first time. President Biden signed the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act, or PAWS Act, into law in late August.
The PAWS Act requires the VA to implement service dog-training services in at least five VA Health centers by 2022. The pilot program will run for at least five years. When the five years are up, the VA will present its findings to Congress, which will then vote on whether to extend the program or make it permanent.
A portion of the cost of a service dog was previously available only to veterans with a physical disability through the VA. For now, the PAWS Act only pertains to veterans with PTSD. After the five years is up, Congress can also decide if they should extend the benefits to veterans with other mental health conditions.
“This is another great change coming to the VA,” said James G. Fausone, lead attorney at VA disability law firm Legal Help for Veterans. “Individuals struggling with mental health can really benefit from the help and companionship a service dog gives. With this funding, more people will be able to get their own potentially life-changing partnership with a service dog.”
The VA conducted a study on the benefits of service dogs for veterans in 2010. The initial results of this research were published in March. The VA will next publish its findings on the cost-effectiveness of service dogs as treatment for PTSD in the fall.
The study found that veterans who had service dogs had fewer and less severe PTSD symptoms. They also exhibited fewer suicidal behaviors and ideations. The reduction in PTSD symptoms led to other benefits, such as improved personal relationships, less risk of alcohol and substance abuse, and an overall better day-to-day experience.
Legal Help for Veterans is a veteran-owned and operated law firm specializing in VA disability claims in Northville, Michigan. For more information, visit https://www.legalhelpforveterans.com/.