Mr. GRIMM. Thank you, Chairman Miller.
I rise today in strong support of H.R. 2074, which includes the text of H.R. 198, the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act. That's a bill that I introduced along with our lead cosponsor, House Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Michaud. A special thank you to the ranking member. As a marine combat veteran, it's a unique honor for me to see this bill considered today by the full House.
Over the past 9 months, I've had the honor to meet with our Nation's veterans who are now faced with the challenges of coping with PTSD and physical disabilities resulting from their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their stories are not for the weak of heart, and they're truly moving, with these personal accounts of their recovery, both physical and mental, and the important role therapy and service dogs played that inspired this legislation.
The Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot program in VA medical centers assessing the effectiveness of addressing post-deployment mental health and PTSD through the therapeutic medium of training service dogs for veterans with disabilities. These trained service dogs are then given to physically disabled veterans to help them with their daily activities.
Simply put, this program treats veterans suffering from PTSD while at the same time aiding those suffering from physical disabilities. Since it was introduced, this legislation has gained the bipartisan support of 96 cosponsors. With veteran suicide rates at all-time highs and more and more servicemen and -women being diagnosed with PTSD, this bill meets a crucial need for additional treatment methods. I believe that by caring for our Nation's veterans, while at the same time providing assistance dogs to those with physical disabilities, we create a win-win scenario for everyone. This is a goal we can all be proud to accomplish.
Just as an added bonus, we provide these wonderful animals with a loving and safe environment. And that's why I strongly urge all of my colleagues to join me in support of H.R. 2074.
Lanham, MD, October 11, 2011.
Hon. Michael Grimm,
House of Representatives, Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC.
Dear Congressman Grimm: On behalf of AMVETS (American Veterans), I am writing to express our support of H.R. 198, the ``Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act.'' AMVETS supports the updated language of H.R. 198 that is now an amendment in H.R. 2074. We believe the current language in H.R. 2074 will ensure this bill provides our veterans the highest quality care, while at the same time maintaining our commitment to fiscal responsibility.
As you may know, AMVETS has partnered with the Assistance Dogs International (ADI) accredited Assistance Dog agency Paws With A Cause for over 30 years, in an effort to help provide disabled veterans Service Dogs. Through our experiences we have seen what an immeasurable asset these dogs have proven to be to both the trainers and recipients. This has included, but is not limited to, improvements in both physical and mental health, quality of life and the independence these dogs afford disabled veterans.
Furthermore, AMVETS believes H.R. 198, as an amendment in H.R. 2074, will prove to be both beneficial to veterans and to the Department of Veterans Affairs in the development of stronger policies and procedures regarding Service Dogs within the VA health care system, as well as being fiscally responsible through the partnering of VA facilities with private sector industry expert ADI agencies for this study.
AMVETS lends our support to H.R. 198, as an amendment in H.R. 2074 and again applauds your dedication to our veteran community.
Christina M. Roof,
National Deputy Legislative Director.