JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Local lawmakers are pushing to force the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Today, District 4 Rep. John Rutherford introduced a bill he says could save lives.
It’s called the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act of 2019.
He released a statement reading in part:
“It is heartbreaking that twenty veterans take their own lives each day. We must do more to help those with PTSD and other service-connected forms of trauma.”
In a release, Rutherford says Reps. Al Lawson, Michael Waltz and Gil Cisneros also support the measure.
The bill would allow the VA to issue grants to organizations like K9s for Warriors, that pair trained service dogs with veterans.
The bill would allow the VA to grant up to $25,000 for a single service dog to be provided to a veteran with PTSD.
Right now, the VA doesn’t provide service dogs for physical or mental health conditions.
K9s for Warriors CEO and Jacksonville City Council member Rory Diamond says this could be huge.
“Essentially, what that’s going to do is force the VA to recognize that these incredible service dogs are saving our warriors' lives,” he said.
According to the proposal, to be eligible for the grant, organizations must provide service dogs to veterans with PTSD, meet the national standard of the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans and be able to address the needs specific to veterans with PTSD.
The bill says veterans must be enrolled in the VA system and be diagnosed by qualified health provider.
As it is written, the program would be capped at $10 million from fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2022.
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