Biden Signs Bill For More Service Dogs for Vets to Combat PTSD

Biden Signs Bill For More Service Dogs for Vets to Combat PTSD

President Joe Biden signed a bill to connect veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder with service dogs during a recent ceremony attended by a bipartisan group of politicians.

The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act mandates the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a five-year pilot program to train and give service dogs to veterans who have PTSD.

The law aims to minimize veteran suicide linked to mental health conditions by pairing veterans with service dogs exhibiting signs of PTSD and other post-deployment challenges.

Under the proposed legislation, nonprofit organizations would collaborate with the VA to devise programs and educate veterans on training dogs to act docile and calm in certain situations. The trained dogs can assist them in stressful situations, such as shielding veterans in crowded rooms or waking them up from nightmares. After finishing the program, veterans can take the dogs home with them.

According to the VA's most recent report, nearly 90,000 veterans committed suicide between 2005 and 2018.

Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are estimated to suffer from PTSD in up to 30% of cases. PTSD is underreported among veterans, as they commit suicide on average 20 times per day. The hotline for veterans' crises has also seen a 15% increase in calls since the Coronavirus outbreak.

In a report published last year by the VA, participants with service dogs specifically trained to assist with PTSD were less likely to engage in suicidal behavior and thoughts within the first 18 months.

"We envision that this law will have a significant positive impact on the health and well-being of suffering military personnel and even help mitigate veteran suicides," said Mike Bober, president of the Pet Industry Joint Committee.