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April 01, 2022

PAWS Act Pilot Program Implementation

On Wednesday, the VA published a notice in the Federal Register outlining the agency’s plan for implementing the PAWS Act. The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act was signed into law on August 25, 2021. It requires the VA to conduct a pilot program in at least five VA Medical Centers.  The program must provide canine training to eligible veterans as a component of a complementary, integrative health program. Eligible veterans are those who are (1) enrolled in the VA health care system; (2) diagnosed with PTSD; and (3) recommended for participation by a “qualified mental health care provider or clinical team.” With PTSD being such a prevalent issue among veterans (a 2017 study revealed 12.9% of veterans were diagnosed with PTSD), the PAWS Act aims to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses but without mobility impairments. Participating veterans will have the chance to train potential future service dogs, with the end goal of helping veterans manage their PTSD symptoms. The pilot program will be available in Anchorage, Alaska; Asheville, North Carolina; Palo Alto, California; San Antonio, Texas; and West Palm Beach, Florida.