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Veterans’ benefits may soon include costs of service dogs

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2019 | Veterans' Benefits

Those who have served this country in the armed forces deserve the gratitude of all citizens. One of the ways to do that is by ensuring that each service member can access the appropriate veterans’ benefits for continued care. This can be difficult to do at times and laws are constantly changing about what is included as a benefit. Florida veterans and their families may be interested to know that two lawmakers are currently pushing legislation that would cover the costs of service dogs trained to help veterans who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. They say it would positively impact many aspects of the lives of those who need them.

Experts estimate that around 20 veterans take their own lives each day and lawmakers are anxious to change that. They are advocating a program known as Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers. If it passes, the Department of Veterans Affairs would give vouchers of up to $25,000 to veterans with PTSD to cover the costs of having a service dog. The lawmakers say that the dogs can help veterans feel happy, give them a reason to get out of the house and focus on caring for something else. Right now, only veterans with a physical need are able to get a voucher for a service dog.

Studies show that having a service dog has a positive affect on the human it helps. Supporters say that the dogs can help a veteran with PTSD feel more comfortable in a crowd of people and are even trained to wake up people who are having a nightmare. The VA is awaiting its own report before it makes a public statement about the efficacy of these dogs.

If this legislation passes, it has the potential to help countless veterans, here in Florida and across the country. These dogs would only be one part of veterans’ benefits, which are designed to improve the lives of those who gave so much to this country. Those former service members and their families who are unsure whether they are receiving their full benefits may want to consult an attorney with extensive knowledge of this area of the law.