VA Refuses to Pay for Service Dogs for Mentally Struggling Vets

September 19, 2012 · Print This Article

In September, the US Veterans’ Administration issued a rule excluding service dogs as a benefit for vets who struggle “only” with mental disabilities.

Although they will continue to pay for the care of dogs used by vets with hearing, vision or mobility impairments, they will not pay for dogs if the vet who needs the dog has a mental impairment.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the VA has launched projects to study the effectiveness of mental health service dogs, but until there is more concrete evidence that these dogs provide a benefit, they cannot justify supporting them.

To help bridge the gap, there are organizations like Wags 4 Warriors, which provides free mental health service dogs and training to veterans near Cleveland. The non-profit is supported entirely by donations and has already provided 60 dogs, and has another 20 vets on a waiting list.

The dogs are trained to awaken their veterans from nightmares and to encourage them to leave situations where panic attacks are likely.

The alternative to using the dogs is treating the vets with drugs, which often leave them sluggish and disoriented. Using a dog allows the vet to re-enter society and hold down a job.

Kudos to Army vet Frank DeLorenzo and his wife, Jen, for founding Wags 4 Warriors to fulfill this important need.

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

Comments

2 Responses to “VA Refuses to Pay for Service Dogs for Mentally Struggling Vets”

  1. Kathleen Maxwell on September 19th, 2012 9:35 pm

    OMG I am not an American, I am Canadian but what the hell? Both of my parents were Veterans of WWll and my Grandfather was a prisoner of the Germans in WWl, believe me I sooo understand the ‘mental anguish’ of war. I do not understand why or why they would give them drugs but not assist in these soldiers re-entering the work force in a healthy way. So exactly what kind of concrete evidence do they need when anyone with a heart beat knows that the presence of a domesticated animal (dog, cat, horse, whatever) will ALWAYS bring down the blood pressure of someone petting an animal??!!

  2. marlene on September 20th, 2012 5:02 am

    I agree fully with Kathleen Maxwell. To use an old phrase:
    “They also serve who only”. . . give their loyalty, perform for the good of their fellow soldiers, and even die carrying out their duties.

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