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Palazzo Supports PAWS Act for Veterans

Washington, DC - Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) announced today that he is an original cosponsor of H.R. 1448, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, which authorizes a pilot program within the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) that allows the VA Secretary to partner with non-profit organizations to grant veterans access to treatment using service dogs. 

"It is proven that veterans across the country have benefitted from working with service dogs to cope with the effects of posttraumatic stress. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act connects veterans with non-profit organizations that will focus on the drivers of PTSD. I am proud to support this legislation and my fellow veterans who have honorably served our country."

The non-profit organizations will specialize in working with veterans and service dogs. These organizations will train veterans in the art and science of dog training, with preference given to non-profits that employ veterans to encourage veteran-to-veteran engagement. Once a veteran graduates from the program, they can keep the service dog, which will continue providing therapy. Participants have the option to opt-out of ownership if they and their VA health care provider determine ownership is not in their best interest or if they feel they no longer need to continue this course of therapy.

A recent study from the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that "Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) paired with service dogs showed less suicidal ideation and more improvement in PTSD symptoms than those paired with emotional support dogs."

Palazzo, a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf War, backed the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act in the 116th Congress and is one of 216 cosponsors in the version introduced this Congress.