Marshall-Supported PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act Signed Into Law
Veterans Living with Mental Health Conditions Receive Service Dogs
(Washington, D.C., August 30, 2021) – President Biden signed into law the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. The new law will enable the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a pilot program on dog training therapy. This promising new model will help employ veterans to train service dogs while simultaneously improving veterans’ mental health issues associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much both here and abroad, with many living with mental health issues as a result of their service to our country,” said Senator Marshall. “They will now have expanded access to a scientifically proven treatment plan unlike any other. I applaud President Biden for signing this bipartisan legislation into law, and look forward to our physically and mentally wounded servicemembers receiving the assistance they need through dog therapy programs.”
Last year, the VA released its National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, highlighting that the number of veterans with mental health conditions such as PTSD and substance use orders increased after facing declines in previous years. Suicide rates went from 6,056 in 2005 to 6,435 in 2018. Unfortunately, this is the latest available data, rates have yet to been provided for 2019 and 2020. The suicide report shows suicide veteran rates at 17.6 a day in 2018, a slight increase from 2017 when the number was 17.5.
The bipartisan PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act aims to reduce veteran suicide connected to mental health conditions by partnering veterans experiencing symptoms of PTSD and other post-deployment issues with service dogs through a VA pilot program. Under this pilot program, veterans will experience an improved quality of life and ability to re-enter society and improve the state of their mental health. The new law is built on existing dog therapy programs with a proven track record of helping patients associated with PTSD. These programs are also utilized at centers that help survivors of domestic violence and abuse, and in disability and health care settings.
To learn more about the new law, click HERE.