House approves Stivers bill to extend therapeutic services to soldiers suffering from PTSD

The House approved bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) on Tuesday that would expand therapeutic services available to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act would establish a pilot program for dog training and handling designed to help veterans suffering from PTSD. The bill, which was co-sponsored by Stivers and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), is part of the larger Veterans Employment, Education and Healthcare Improvement Act, H.R. 3016.

“It is estimated that 22 current and former service members commit suicide each day in our country,” Stivers said. “This tragedy requires immediate action. We owe it to our service men and women who risk their lives for our freedoms to help them when they return home. I have personally met veterans whose lives have been dramatically improved through working with a service dog, and I am glad we are one step closer to giving more veterans this opportunity.”

The pilot program would be offered at between three and five Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. Participating veterans would be partnered with therapeutic dog training organizations that would oversee the dogs’ housing and care.

The ultimate goal of the program would be to teach occupational skills to veterans through training and handling dogs. In the end, each dog would be placed with a disabled veteran.

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