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PAWS Act designed to help veterans with PTSD get service dogs signed into law

The pilot program will help train and pay for service dogs for those with PTSD.
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 5:08 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 6:22 PM CDT
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PULASKI, Wis. (WBAY) - The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 20% of vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, there’s a new law that will make it easier for veterans suffering from PTSD to get a service dog

President Biden signed the PAWS Act into law Wednesday.

The PAWS ACT, or ‘Puppies Assisting Wounded Service members for Veterans Therapy Act,’ authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program on dog training therapy that will provide dog-training skills and service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses.

While the VA had previously paid for service dogs for veterans with physical and mobility issues, Jeremy Van Beek, the founder of Get Your Six K9′s Service Dogs said those with PTSD have been left out to dry.

“They would ask, there is the data? Our well being wasn’t enough. And now a lot of veterans didn’t come forward that probably needed this and unfortunately are not with us today because it wasn’t a well respected idea,” Van Beek said.

Michael Thorpe, a veteran and dog trainer for Elite Canines said he is living proof that service dogs can make a difference for those with PTSD.

“I had tons of panic attacks, I had tons of nightmares and before I got my dog Fecto, I would just stay in all the time and it was a nightmare for me,” Thorpe said.

The $10 million, five-year pilot program will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Van Beet hopes the program will be sustainable, as many in the past have gotten veterans hopes up.

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