Veterans, lawmakers team up to treat PTSD with puppies

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Marine Corps veteran Cole Lyle wants to help generate his fellow assistance members a sense of purpose again one hound at a time.

Over the past few years, Lyle, 27, has dedicated much of his time to meeting with lawmakers and witnessing before Congress, aiming to change how the Department of Veterans Affairs provides its vets. The develop: the House is reconsidering the PAWS Act.

The PAWS Act or Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act of 2017 was reintroduced last month and would used a pilot program to allow for the VA to provide service pups to ex-servicemen with a mental disability such as post-traumatic stress illnes, a service the government doesnt already provide.

According to the VAs website, assistance dogs are provided to ex-servicemen to do specific tasks for a person that he or she cannot do because of a disability, such as, pick situations up, navigate a visually-impaired ex-serviceman or facilitate someone who has fallen.

But with the rapid rise of suicide and opioid reliance among ex-servicemen, the very important to change that, Lyle told Fox News.

As a nontraditional medication, this has no negative assistances, Lyle read of services that are pups. The veteran parish has been absolutely beat up by the opioid outbreak. A batch of veterans ought to have committing suicide due to infuriating symptoms because of opioids.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla ., a sponsor of the legislation and Navy veteran, said hes realized firsthand how multiple deployments can impact veterans.

As a veteran, I know the toll that it takes on some of these people who have done three, four, five deployments, DeSantis, 38, read. Thats just not a ordinary event to do for a human being, and theres going to be invisible scars that are left by that. Its an important issue to deal with.

Heres a explosion of the PAWS Act and how it could help veterans.

How would the pilot program employment ?

Should the PAWS Act be implemented, it would allow for the VA to create a five year pilot program that provides $25,000 subsidies to an eligible administration providing services hounds to ex-servicemen with severe PTSD.

That grant would also cros any excursion expenses for the ex-serviceman to acquire the dog and a health insurance policy for the dog.


In order for a veteran to be eligible for a service pup, a veteran will be recommended by a VA medical provider or clinical team and saw an adequate nominee for the program. That veteran should have undergone conventional care that did not facilitate evidences of PTSD.

To continue eligible in the program, the ex-serviceman must continue to meet with a VA medical provider every six months.

A veteran would have to apply for a service dog through an confirmed organization, Lyle did. The formation must be accredited by either Assistance Dogs International or the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Ex-serviceman, a newly-formed association created to increase the conditions for accreditation and alleviate any issues with services industries, such as airline companies.

What is the fiscal influence of the program ?

The program allocates $10 million over five years to fund the provision of service pups for veterans.

Grants are capped at $25,000 per ex-serviceman which includes the training of the dog, veterinary care and travel to pick up the service animal.

And many service dog formations are able to teach and provision hounds for a cheaper expenditure than the $25,000 detonator, DeSantis said. An party in his own territory in Florida offer bird-dogs for under $20,000.

If it substantiates is efficient and we think it will be and the evidence is out there but once the VA is able to see that its effective, then I think we will be able to possibly redirect more funds to it if thats something theres a is necessary to, DeSantis said.


Long term, providing service bird-dogs to ex-servicemen can also save taxpayers money, Lyle answered, as ex-servicemen will come to rely on the dogs instead of a prescription drug concoction regime.

To give one of these people a puppy when theyre young like me, I dont take a lot of medications anymore, so the VA wont have to spend money medicating me, Lyle told. So it may seem expensive up front, but genuinely trying to introduce these healthy, holistic approachings to mental health, can save is not simply a lot of lives, but a lot of money.

DeSantis agreed with Lyle, disagreeing if a veteran can find help for PTSD through a service puppy instead of through a heavy regiman of potentially addictive prescription, the savings for the taxpayer will be significant.

Obviously it will be good for the ex-serviceman, which is more important, but this is also a more effective acces to save money and consider a ex-serviceman, I visualize, DeSantis said.


The congressman too stressed that the pilot program does not spend any new money but rather redirects stores from the VA bureaucracy.

They waste a lot on bureaucracy all kinds of things that dont help the veterans, DeSantis said. So its precisely a straight transfer of money.

Are service hounds an efficient medication ?

Lyle said he is consistently helped by his own busines pup, Kaya, a three-year-old, social media savvy German Sheperd. From developing infinite on a cramped metro to waking him up from nightmares, Kaya is a constant existence in Lyles life that mitigates his PTSD symptoms.

Mitigating symptoms in a way that is healthy. Service pups truly thrust you to do that, he said.

Lyle said that through his activism, he has been approached by numerous veterans who said his design has saved them from suicide.


The VA does not acknowledge busines puppies as a substitute for effective PTSD treatment, according to its website.

Although people with PTSD who have a service dog for a physical disability or emotional support bird-dog may experience comforted by the animal, there is some likelihood they may continue to believe that they cannot do certain things on their own, the website governments. For instance, if the dog keeps strangers from coming too close, the owner will not have a chance to learn that they can handle this situation without the dog.

Becoming dependent on a dog can get in the way of the convalescence process for PTSD, it continues. Based on what we know from research, evidence-based treatment provides the best hazard of convalescence from PTSD.

Lyle pointed out that there is a specific law distinction between a service puppy and an emotional support swine,

A service dog is specifically trained to mitigate specific symptoms and are legally guaranteed in the[ Americans with Disabilities Act] whereas emotional support hounds and therapy pups are not legally protected and are really not trained to do anything more than simply provision convenience, he said.


DeSantis also said that the program could help give the government some insight on how to better serve ex-servicemen in future years after additional conflict.

If that register is there, then veterans are going to have better care going forward, he said.

Its easier for society to realized the veteran who has lost a extremity or has some physical complication or physical wind, and everyone instinctively thinks we need to help that soul. Its harder, sometimes, for society to understand theres invisible curves that comes with being in fighting and post-traumatic stress is one of the largest, DeSantis said.

What has changed from the original legislation ?

There ought to have changes to the PAWS Act since it was first introduced in March 2016 then, too, by DeSantis.

One of those changes, according to Lyle, is becoming stricter the training standards organizations must comply with in order to receive the grant coin from the VA.


The current bill has also been refined to include pre-9/ 11 veterans.

Initially we limited the services offered bird-dogs to post-9/ 11 veterans since we are believed the PTSD problem was most acute with that, DeSantis said. The is why we did it was because we wanted the proposal to be cost-effective, and the bigger the price tag, the harder it is to pass today.

We were able to figure out that restriction it to post-9/ 11 wasnt necessary, he prolonged, adding that any veteran who goes through the proper VA treatment could be eligible for a service dog. In some modes its more all-inclusive, but its too more targeted to get at really those acute an instance of veterans who are not being helped well by the reigning orthodoxy of dealing with post-traumatic stress.

Whats next for this proposal ?

DeSantis predicted that the House Committee of Veterans Affairs will very soon hold a vote on the laws and regulations. After that, it will be presented to the full House for a vote.

There, too, DeSantis predicted that it will pass overwhelmingly. As it stands, the invoice has 125 bipartisan cosponsors.

And its that overwhelming bipartisan foundation that DeSantis hopes will encourage the Senate to fast track the legislation.

The Senate can be cumbersome, but when theres wide-ranging agreement, they can move stuffs pretty quickly through unanimous agree, DeSantis said. Thats what were hoping to do: tee it up in the House and simply get the bipartisan boosters in the Senate to say we need to move this thing pretty quickly.

DeSantis also said that the VA should certainly changed its song and become more receptive to the legislation. He hopes that the VA will be supportive should it pass.

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