Why just service dogs? Why not equine therapy, art therapy, etc?
While we don’t disparage the ability of these alternate therapies, service dogs can be more portable and accessible to everyday life, and require funding on a federal level.
How do you know service dogs work?
If someone needs empirical data to prove dogs are therapeutic, it’s likely they’ve never owned a dog at all. But in all seriousness, there have been numerous white papers and lots of research done on the efficacy of service dogs as medically necessary instruments to help with the symptoms of PTS. You can also talk to any veteran who has one and they will tell you the same.
Won’t this just expand a VA that is already dysfunctional?
No. Our primary concern is veterans, not the institution. We’re crafting this legislation responsibly and keeping as much decision-making power as we can out of the hands of senior-level officials within the VA, allowing for more flexibility.
What is the cost?
We have not scored this legislation with the Congressional Budget Office yet, but if you take every single veteran that has been diagnosed with PTS from the 14 year period between 2000-2014, you get roughly 170k. Multiply that by the most expensive service dog at $20k, then factor in the average annual veterinary cost per dog, and you get around $4 billion. That’s a one-time cost that would be spread out over the course of a 10-15 year period, so around $700 million per year. Compared to the VA’s annual budget of $168 BILLION, it’s a drop in the bucket. And one we can likely carve out some room for.
What if the veteran becomes dependant upon the dog to live his life?
Well, I guarantee that 100% of the loved ones of every veteran who has thus far taken his own life as a result of PTS and over-medication would tell you: they’d have preferred their veteran been addicted to a dog rather than a pill. That being said, these dogs are trained to not only help the veteran with extreme symptoms, but to help the veterans get over them. Over the average lifespan of these dogs (8-12 years), a vet will likely see symptoms dramatically subside.
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