WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTXL) — Senators Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to reintroduce a bill that aims to help U.S. veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The bill, known as the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service members Act, or PAWS, would help improve the quality of life for veterans suffering from PTSD by providing them with access to service dogs.
“Our veterans have dedicated their lives to serving our nation, many times at great personal sacrifice, and they deserve every chance to live full and happy lives after their service to our nation," said Senator Rick Scott. "Our bill, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service (PAWS) Members Act, helps connect our veterans with a service dog, and friend, to provide the support, love and connection they need after their active duty."
The PAWS Act would establish a 3-year program in which the Secretary of Veterans Affairs would provide grants of up to $25,000 per veteran to eligible organizations to pair veterans suffering from severe PTSD with service dogs, according to a release from Sen. Scott.
A recent study by the VA found that participants who were given service dogs experienced a reduction in their PTSD symptoms and had fewer suicidal behaviors and ideations.
Although the VA covers service dogs for veterans with physical disabilities, it does not currently cover service dogs for veterans with PTSD, despite evidence of the efficacy of service dogs for this type of treatment.
“We can never repay the debt we owe to our nation’s veterans, but we can help to ensure that they have access to the resources they need to help them live comfortable post-service lives,” said Senator Rubio. "Service dogs have proven to be effective in managing post-traumatic stress disorder and can provide veterans with a sense of confidence, security, and independence."
The bill would authorize a total of $10 million to carry out the program from 2022 through 2024.