There has been some evidence suggesting that service dogs can help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues, and now some advocates are encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to revise its policy on the helpful animals. Among the leading voices is Senator Chuck Schumer, who has called on the VA to include service dogs to treatments covered by health benefits, according to Military Times.
Under current guidelines, the VA covers service dogs for a number of conditions including mobility problems and visual or hearing disabilities. The VA covers many of the costs including veterinary bills and insurance. However, mental health issues are excluded from the coverage. Despite the research supporting the emotional benefits of service dogs, the VA maintains that it is only authorized to cover dogs for people who are physically disabled. Many advocates disagree.
"We owe it to these vets to provide them with every recovery option possible, including service dogs, prescribed by a doctor, to help them heal," Schumer said in a press release.
There are considerable benefits service dogs can offer soldiers suffering from PTSD. According to the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, canines can not only read their handlers moods, but caring for a dog can help take wounded warriors' minds off their mental illness.