Joyce Joins Stivers in Introducing Legislation to Pair Veterans with Service Dogs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) in introducing legislation to help connect veterans with service dogs in their communities. H.R. 1448, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, aims to alleviate PTSD symptoms and save veteran lives by increasing access to service dogs through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Joyce was an original cosponsor of the same legislation last Congress, which passed the House unanimously.
“The harsh reality is that PTSD impacts between 11 and 30 percent of those who have served,” said Joyce. “We need to use every tool available to help improve veteran mental health and prevent veteran suicides. Programs that connect veterans with service dogs have proven to alleviate symptoms of PTSD, improve interpersonal relationships, lower the risk of substance abuse and suicide, and improve overall mental health. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act and hope that by bringing our veterans and four-legged friends together, we will be a step closer to providing our nation’s heroes with the care they deserve.”
Specifically, the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act will create a pilot program within the VA to give veterans access to treatment derived from working with service dogs. The VA will partner with non-profit organizations who specialize in working with veterans and service dogs. Upon completion of the program, the veterans may adopt their dogs to provide continuing therapy.
On February 5, 2021, the VA released the results of a study that found veterans with PTSD paired with service dogs showed less suicidal ideation and more improvement in PTSD symptoms than those paired with emotional support dogs. You can learn about additional research about the benefits of service dogs for veterans here.