HOUSE ADOPTS MCGOVERN AMENDMENT ON SERVICE DOGS FOR VETERANS
The U.S. House of Representatives today, as part of the FY 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, passed an amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02) to establish a $3 million competitive grant pilot program to address the physical and mental health needs of service members and veterans with assistance from service dogs.
The McGovern amendment was passed by voice vote earlier this week. Final passage of the bill occurred today.
Many of our service members and veterans return home from the battlefield suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), blindness or impaired vision, the loss of a limb, paralysis, impaired mobility, loss of hearing, and other mental and physical disabilities. Sadly, too many also struggle with suicidal thoughts and the inability to reintegrate into the social framework of their families and communities. Working with a trained service dog is a promising form of therapy and assistance for these veterans and service members, one that has already been proven to help civilians who confront similar mental and physical disabilities.
In December, Rep. McGovern held a briefing that brought together experts to look more closely at the impact service dogs have on veterans’ care. Medical experts, non-profits and veterans with trained service dogs participated, including the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, a non-profit, accredited service dog provider founded in 1976. Based in Massachusetts, NEADS has trained more than 1400 assistance dogs. Since 2005, it has been actively working to bring service dogs to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“I have seen first-hand, including at NEADS, the positive impact these dogs can have on the lives of our veterans,” Rep. McGovern said. “Providing grant opportunities for groups professionally engaged in this field is critical to ensuring that our military and veterans receive the care they deserve.”
The McGovern amendment was co-sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and others.