Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce legislation that would establish a grant program to encourage the use of assistance dogs by members of our Armed Forces and veterans.
Tens of thousands of our service members and veterans are struggling to cope with physical or mental health disabilities. Assistance dogs help these men and women lead more independent lives, assisting with mobility and balance, retrieving and carrying objects, responding to sounds, getting help, and providing social interaction and companionship. Trained dogs also offer many therapeutic benefits to soldiers and veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by elevating their moods, building confidence, and reducing stress, all of which assist them in their transition back to civilian life.
Nonprofit organizations that train and provide assistance dogs to help our military personnel and veterans are receiving more and more requests. Groups throughout the country--including Hawaii Fi-Do Service Dogs in my congressional district--train and provide dogs for returning soldiers and veterans but rely on fundraising and volunteer staff to meet the growing demand.
The K-9 Companion Corps Act would provide competitive grants to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations whose mission is to address the physical and mental health needs of the men and women who have served our nation so honorably through the dogs they train and provide.
I thank my former colleague, Congressman Ron Klein of Florida, for his work on this bill last Congress and for his unwavering commitment to our military personnel, veterans, and their families.