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!