Daytona Beach Congressman Ron DeSantis has reintroduced the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers or PAWS Act in order to expand access to service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The legislation would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a 5 year pilot program under which would provides a $25,000 grant to an eligible organization to pair a veteran suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder with a service dog. In addition to initial pairing costs the funds would cover veterinarian bills for the dog and any equipment needed.
Studies have proven that service dogs can reduce the strain of PTSD and other mental illnesses potentially preventing depression that in the past has lead to veteran suicides. Other lawmakers sponsoring the legislation include Democratic Congressman Stephen Lynch from Massachusetts, Democratic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey and DeSantis’ fellow GOP lawmaker, Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska.
DeSantis previously sponsored similar legislation last year and has been an outspoken supporter for service dog programs. Here in Orlando, the Orange County Young Republicans have hosted two successful fundraisers for K9 Warriors, which DeSantis also participated in.
“We have asked our veterans to endure great sacrifice so that we may live in freedom; we must provide the best care possible to those bearing invisible wounds of war such as post-traumatic stress,” DeSantis said. “I have seen first-hand how specially-trained service dogs can mitigate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for veterans who have been failed by traditional therapies. The PAWS Act will allow the VA to utilize this specialized treatment in their fight against post-traumatic stress.”