Service Dog Benefits Extended to Veterans with Mental Health Disorders

REP. THOMPSON ANNOUNCES THAT MORE VETS WITH PTS, MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS WILL BE ABLE TO BENEFIT FROM SERVICE DOG

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, Co-Chair of the Military Veterans Caucus, announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a pilot program to offer service dog benefits to veterans with mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress (PTS). This program will pair 100 veterans who experience a mental health disorder that limits their mobility, including their ability to conduct normal social activities and navigate public spaces, with a highly trained assistance dog.

Earlier this year, Thompson hosted a briefing and demonstration with the Santa Rosa based non-profit Canine Companions for Independence in Washington, D.C. to showcase the benefits service dogs provide for veterans with PTS. After the briefing, Thompson asked senior VA officials to explore making service dogs available to veterans with PTS immediately while we await the completion of a formal study currently underway. Until now, the VA had only offered benefits for service dogs to veterans who experienced a physical disability, such as blindness, deafness and loss of limb.

“I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous benefits service dogs provide for our veterans dealing with invisible wounds of war, like PTS and traumatic brain injuries,” said Thompson. “I’m thrilled that more of our veterans will be able to benefit from a service dog thanks to this announcement from the VA and I encourage veterans experiencing PTS or other mental health disorders to talk to their doctor about whether they might be able to benefit from a service dog.”

“The pilot program will provide the opportunity for veterans with PTS to fully engage the numerous benefits of a highly trained assistance dog,” Canine Companions for Independence CEO Paul Mundell states. “Thanks to Congressman Thompson and the VA for taking this important step.” 

Read related articles:

U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs Press Release

Military Times: VA program to provide service dogs for some veterans with mental health conditions

Press Democrat: Santa Rosa's Canine Companions training service dogs to help vets with PTSD

 

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