The Department of Veterans Affairs (also known as the VA) has begun the process of implementing the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act, also known as the PAWS Act. This process, which started on March 30, will begin the process of helping veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by experimenting with the use of service dogs in treatment. If successful, the program could help veterans around the country to train service dogs as part of their treatment for their PTSD.
What is the PAWS Act?
The PAWS Act, which was originally passed into law on August 25, 2021, was created with the goal of beginning a five year study on the potential use of service dogs in therapy for veterans with PTSD. These service dogs would be trained by veterans as part of a larger and more comprehensive health plan to help veterans suffering from PTSD and other psychological issues related to their military service. While the pilot program is set to only include VA centers in five cities, if it is successful, it will be expanded to other centers around the country.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a psychological disorder that is caused by seeing or experiencing an event involving extreme violence or a high risk of loss of life. While PTSD is most commonly associated with military veterans, it is also often seen in survivors of natural disasters, attempted murders, and sexual assaults, among other things. This disorder can have a substantial negative effect on people who suffer from it, causing extreme anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks, especially when exposed to certain triggering stimuli.
How Can the PAWS Act Help People With PTSD?
The PAWS Act is an effort to help people with PTSD by giving them service dogs to help them manage their psychological issues. Specifically, veterans would be instructed in how to train these service dogs, and help them to raise them to help people suffering from physical or psychological disabilities. This could, in theory, help veterans to manage their PTSD symptoms by helping their sense of personal well-being.
How Will This Benefit Disabled Veterans?
The hope is that, if this program is successful, it will help veterans suffering from psychological disabilities to become better at managing their PTSD or other psychological issues. PTSD is a complex psychological disorder, and should be managed in concert with a trained medical professional. However, for some veterans, the PAWS Act may provide an unconventional route to treatment that would otherwise be unavailable.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.