Representative John Carter, of Texas, is sponsoring a new bill in Congress that will enable more veterans to visit VA facilities more easily. Current VA policy allows only seeing-eye dogs, service dogs that assist vision impaired veterans, onto VA property. The VA is working in-house to add mobility service dogs to those allowed into VA facilities, but this bill would require entrance for all service dogs. This means vision, mobility, hearing, and even psychiatric service dogs. Psychiatric dogs are those trained to help veterans with PTSD cope with the symptoms better.
AmVets Legislative Director, Christina Roof, says the goal is to modernize the VA, changing it from an outdated to policy to reflect the advances made with service animals. The VA’s purpose is to help disabled veterans, and Roof says “we should never refuse care to veterans based on their disability or the prosthetic device they use to assist them.” Even if that device is a dog.
The VA’s policy to allow mobility service dogs could take effect as early as June of this year, while bill HR 1154 still has to be passed by Congress. Carter believes his bill will be easily passed because of its “commonsense” nature.
Photo thanks to The U.S. Army under creative common license on Flickr.