Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act

K. William Boyer
Devils Lake Journal

WASHINGTON – North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer joined North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, Arizona Senotor Kyrsten Sinema and California Senator Dianne Feinstein to introduce a bipartisan legislation authorizing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program on dog training therapy and provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses, regardless of whether they have mobility issues.

The program will be called Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act. The bill would aim to reduce veteran suicide connected to mental health conditions by partnering veterans experiencing symptoms of PTSD and other post-deployment issues with service dogs, which have an established record of improving the quality of life for veterans and reducing such symptoms.

Cramer said many veterans with mobility impairments have had their lives changed and in some cases saved.

“Our bill would expand this treatment by launching a pilot program to make veterans with mental health issues such as depression eligible to receive service dogs,” Cramer said.

According to research done by experts, the number of veterans with mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use increased from 27 percent in 2001 to more than 40 percent in 2014. Experts said an average of 20 veterans per-day died by suicide in 2014.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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