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Public Statements

Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FILNER. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 3885, the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act.

I want to thank the ranking member of the Health Subcommittee, Congressman Brown from South Carolina, for bringing us this legislation.

Madam Speaker, we all recognize how damaging the invisible wounds of war can be. The need for effective treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder and for other conditions, such as depression and substance abuse, is apparent, I think, to all Americans. This act recognizes and meets this need by exploring an innovative and promising new form of treatment, using the training of service dogs as a therapeutic medium.

The bill would require the VA to establish a pilot program where veterans with PTSD, or with other postdeployment mental health conditions, would help train service dogs. Through this pilot program, we can test the potential therapeutic benefits to participating veterans. Similar programs are already in existence within the Palo Alto VA Health Care System and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of participants who have reported improved emotional regulation, regular sleep patterns, feelings of personal safety, and reduced levels of anxiety and social isolation. Moreover, these participants tout a strong sense of purpose that they derive from their participation in the program.

Madam Speaker, this bill will allow us to further study this innovative new treatment modality beyond the existing anecdotal evidence, and it will help us assess its place in the VA health care system.

I urge the support of all of my colleagues, and I reserve the balance of my time

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