PAWS Act to help veterans with PTSD
Army veteran Joe Aguirre, who suffered from PTSD, drapes a tattooed arm across the back of his service dog, Munger, in Fayetteville, N.C. in this March 2016 photo. (Photo via the Associated Press.)

20 veterans take their lives daily. Could service dogs help?

With American troops engaged globally and perpetually, an inevitable consequence is that veterans come home from the front lines mentally anguished.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is all too common. To that end, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford and colleagues Rep. Mike Waltz and Al Lawson teamed up on the PAWS (Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers) Act of 2019

The bill has a cute acronym, but a serious purpose: increasing access to service dogs for American heroes attempting to overcome PTSD.

Rutherford notes that the depression returning soldiers feel comes with its own body count;. Twenty veterans commit suicide daily.

“We must do more to help those with PTSD and other service-connected forms of trauma. Providing service dogs to veterans is a proven therapy for PTSD, but for many, the cost associated with training and raising these animals is too great,” he said.

“The PAWS Act will support organizations that pair service dogs with veterans to help our warfighters lead productive and successful lives once they return to civilian life.”

Waltz concurs.

“There’s no denying the emotional and psychological benefits dogs have on humans but for our veterans, that connection is even more impactful,” said Waltz.

“I recently met with veterans in my district who told me they had significantly reduced their medications or no longer needed them because of the love and support of their service dogs. This type of therapy can be life-saving for our veterans and I’m hopeful this legislation will set our American heroes up to live happy, healthy lives.”

Lawson expressed hope that service animals could “help to ameliorate the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

One Jacksonville-are organization that will benefit from this: the groundbreaking K9s for Warriors, which provides service dogs for veterans who suffer from PTSD and other post-combat maladies, helmed by City Councilman Rory Diamond.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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