Today, U.S. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) introduced the bipartisan Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act in the House of Representatives.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) introduced the bipartisan Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act in the House of Representatives.
Right now, the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program offers competitive grants to nonprofit organizations that train service dogs to address the physical and mental health needs of veterans. McGovern spearheaded the creation of the program in 2014. It has been funded – and expanded – on a yearly basis through a bipartisan appropriations amendment for the past 5 years.
The Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act would provide permanent authorization and funding for the next 5 fiscal years to the program, allowing nonprofit awardees to better plan their budgets and increase their capacity to serve veterans. In 2018, 31 nonprofits across 22 states received funding through the competitive grant process.
“For the past five years, the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program has been a proven success – training thousands of dogs that care for and treat veterans with physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress,” said McGovern. “Many of the nonprofits that train these dogs are underfunded, and too many veterans who need service dogs cannot get them due to financial constraints. I’ve talked with countless veterans who tell me that a service dog has literally changed their life. We owe it to those who serve to pass this important bill and ensure that our veterans have the care and services they need when they return home.”
McGovern created the program after a 2013 visit to the nonprofit NEADS World Class Service Dogs in Princeton, Massachusetts, where he learned about how service dogs are helping to treat veterans with physical disabilities as well as individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress. NEADS has paired over 200 highly trained Service Dogs with veterans in need since its Service Dogs for Veterans program was launched over 10 years ago.
“When our brave men and women in uniform return home from serving, we need to make sure they get all the care and support they need,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Service dogs play a critical role in helping our wounded warriors recover and thrive. By building on the successful Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program, this bipartisan bill will bring more veterans and service dogs together and make a meaningful difference in the lives of American heroes.”
The bill authorizes funding for the program for the next five years, allowing nonprofit awardees to better plan their budgets and increase their capacity to help our veterans. In 2018, 31 nonprofits across 22 different states received funding through the competitive grant program.
The Director of Development at NEADS, Cathy Zemaitis, commented, “The Wounded Warriors Service Dog Program has enabled NEADS, and other legitimate Service Dog providers, the opportunity to better serve our nation’s veterans. This important program has allowed NEADS to provide veterans with physical disabilities as well as those diagnosed with PTSD realize increased independence and the opportunity to increasingly engage in their community. Passing the Wounded Warriors Service Dog Act will allow us to plan for the future and increase the number of Veterans we serve. NEADS is deeply grateful to Congressman McGovern and Congresswoman Walorski for their steadfast support of our service members and for their deep understanding of the ways in which highly trained Service Dogs can enhance the quality of life for those who need them.”