Update on the Service Dog Veteran’s Act: Bill Seeks to Provide Trained Assistance Dogs to Wounded Veterans
The Service Dog Veteran’s Act would fund a pilot program to provide assistance dogs to veterans with physical and mental disabilities.
The Service Dog Veteran’s Act, a bill co-sponsored by Senators Al Franken and Johnny Isakson, easily passed as as part of the FY2010 Defense Authorization Bill. The measure will establish a pilot program of at least 200 dogs and veterans to assess the therapeutic value of the dogs for veterans with physical and mental injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Half the service dogs will be for veterans with mental health disabilities and the other half will help those with physical disabilities.
The bill is expected to pass the House and be signed into law. The Veterans’ Administration will pay for the first 50 dogs in the program, and will thereafter provide funds to match contributions made to non-profit service dog organizations.
The program will last for three years at a cost of $5 million. During that time, researchers will study its effectiveness. Senator Franken has stated that there is evidence to suggest service dogs would reduce the suicide rate among veterans, reduce hospitalizations and overall help lower the cost of their health care.
“Everything I’ve had problems with, sleeping, walking – she’s been there,” said injured soldier Shane Vincent of his miniature Yorkie named Bella. Vincent believes that having specially trained service dogs will make even more of a difference in the lives of wounded veterans.
Johnny Isakson is a U.S. Senator from Georgia. He can be contacted at http://isakson.senate.gov/contact.cfm or by telephone at (202) 224-3643. Al Franken is a U.S. Senator from Minnesota who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (202) 224-5641.