WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden today signed into law bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan to authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a pilot program on dog training therapy and provide service dogs to veterans with mental health challenges regardless of whether they or not they have mobility issues.
“Veterans make tremendous sacrifices so that we can be safe, secure, and free – and it is our duty to get them the support that they need for both their physical and mental health needs on their return home,” said Senator Hassan. “Service dogs provide important psychological support to veterans who are experiencing PTSD or other mental health challenges and I am glad that the President has signed this bill to make these wonderful dogs more available to veterans who need them. I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get veterans the support they have earned and deserve.”
The bipartisan PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act aims to support veterans and reduce veteran suicide by partnering veterans experiencing symptoms of PTSD and other post-deployment issues with service dogs through a VA pilot program. Research shows that service dogs have reduced symptoms associated with PTSD. Through this pilot dog therapy program, veterans are expected to more easily transition into civilian life and experience a higher quality of life, resulting in a lower risk of suicide.
This bipartisan bill is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to strengthen support for veterans. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan helped to pass into law the SAVE LIVES Act to expand COVID-19 vaccine access to all veterans, their spouses, and their caregivers through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Senator Hassan also helped secure key priorities for Granite State veterans in the bipartisan veterans package that was signed into law earlier this year, including the Deborah Sampson Act, which Senator Hassan joined in introducing to eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan also voted to advance historic bipartisan legislation to address the failure to provide sufficient compensation and care for veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service.