The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, H.R. 1448, was passed May 12 by the House of Representatives.
The American Legion-backed bill will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to connect service dogs with veterans dealing with post-deployment mental health needs by awarding grants to nonprofit organizations that would provide veterans with puppies to become therapeutic service dogs, as well as cover the cost of training the puppies. Additionally, the bill will amend title 38, United States Code, and authorize the Secretary of VA to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses who do not have mobility impairments.
“I’ve heard from countless individuals who’ve told me that working with a service dog has given them their freedom,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio. “These men and women fought to protect the American way of life: the ability to go to work, to spend time with their family, to give back to their communities. With the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, we can make sure that they’re able to enjoy the things they fought to make possible.”
The American Legion testified in support of a previous version of this bill in 2017.
“Service dogs can act as an effective complementary therapy treatment component, especially for those veterans who suffer on a daily basis from the physical and psychological wounds of war,” wrote The American Legion.
The American Legion supports this bill through Resolution No. 134: Service Dogs for Injured Service Personnel and Veterans with Mental Health Conditions and Resolution No. 160: Complementary and Alternative Medicine.