WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation that Senator Maggie Hassan cosponsored 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.
“Upon returning home, many veterans struggle with PTSD and other mental health challenges, and it is our duty to help get them the support that they need,” said Senator Hassan. “Service dogs can provide immense psychological support to veterans, and can help them have a higher quality of life. I’m glad that the Senate has passed this important bill, and I will continue working across the aisle on legislation that helps veterans receive the care that they have earned and deserve.”
The bipartisan PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act aims to 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.