The Texas House just passed a new act that may provide service dogs free-of-charge to veterans who need them.
The bill, called the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members For Veteran’s Therapy Act or PAWS, would provide service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSd, should they need them.
“This bill is a way to expand treatment by giving veterans access to a working service dog to help with episodes of depression, provide a sense of security and calmness and a loving companion,” said Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, a co-writer of the bill, according to 4 Valley Central News.
Veterans who have benefited from service dogs say that this bill is a step in the right direction.
“I was a Marine Corps Captain, I served for eight years,” explained Eric Vagan, who says his service dog makes him feel as if he has a ‘backup’ at all times.
“It was different, difficult, trying to adjust not only to the everyday environment but trying to adjust to the people. When I went to the VA it was a lot of medication and therapy, which was great, but then I found out from a fellow veteran the benefits that a service therapy dog can be to you in providing actual comfort, because a lot of medication and therapy is great, but it doesn’t provide the comfort a service animal can give.”
So with that information, Vagan set out to get himself a service dog.
Vagan bought himself a boxer puppy, Penny, and paid for all of the training and certifications that would allow her to be an official service animal.
“She makes me feel like she’s got my six, she’s my backup, my battle buddy,” he said. “I’m a totally different person when she’s around, I’m more comfortable, I’m more at ease.”
Now, with the proposed legislation, veterans in Texas may soon receive service dogs through the VA, rather than going through, and paying for, the process on their own.
“That would be phenomenal because when I went to the VA, the VA didn’t initially approve the application for service. I had to go through my own pocket to get her trained and certified and it was expensive. Now, if the VA can provide that service to veterans, that would be amazing,” Vagan said.
The next step for the PAWS act is to get approved by the Senate and eventually land on President Trump’s desk.