H.R.183 - Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act
To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on dog training therapy.
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SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
SEC. 2. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS PILOT PROGRAM ON DOG TRAINING THERAPY.
(a) In General- Commencing not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of the Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall carry out a pilot program for the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of addressing post-deployment mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms through a therapeutic medium of training service dogs for veterans with disabilities.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(b) Duration of Pilot Program- The pilot program required by subsection (a) shall be carried out at least three and not more than five Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers during the five-year period beginning on the date of the commencement of the pilot program.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(c) Locations of Pilot Program- In selecting medical centers for the pilot program required under subsection (a), the Secretary shall ensure that each medical center selected provides a training area for educating veterans with mental health conditions in the art and science of service dog training and handling. Such training area shall--CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(1) administer the program through the Recreation Therapy Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs under the direction of a certified recreational therapist with sufficient administrative experience to oversee all pilot program sites;CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(2) establish, for purposes of overseeing the training of dogs at medical centers selected for the pilot program, a director of service dog training with a background working in social services, experience in teaching others to train service dogs in a vocational setting, and at least one year of experience working with veterans or active duty service members with post-traumatic stress disorder in a clinical setting;CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(4) ensure that in selecting assistance dogs for use in the program, dogs residing in animal shelters or foster homes are looked at as an option, if appropriate, and ensure that all dogs used in the program have adequate temperament and health clearances;CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(e) Veteran Eligibility- A veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder or other post-deployment mental health condition may volunteer to participate in the pilot program under subsection (a) if the Secretary determines that there are adequate program resources available for such veteran at the pilot program site. Veterans may participate in the pilot program in conjunction with the compensated work therapy program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(f) Hiring Preference- In hiring service dog training instructors under the pilot program under subsection (a), the Secretary shall give a preference to veterans who have successfully graduated from post-traumatic stress disorder or other residential treatment programs and who have received adequate certification in service dog training.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(g) Collection of Data- The Secretary shall collect data on the pilot program required under subsection (a) to determine how effective the program is for the veterans participating in the program. Such data shall include data to determine how effectively the program assists veterans in--CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(h) Reports to Congress- Not later than one year after the date of the commencement of the pilot program under subsection (a), and each year thereafter for the duration of the pilot program, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the pilot program. Each such report shall include--CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(A) symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and post-deployment adjustment difficulties, including depression, maintenance of sobriety, suicidal ideations, and homelessness;CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(i) Definition- For the purposes of this section, the term ‘service dog training instructor’ means an instructor who provides the direct training of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other post-deployment issues in the art and science of service dog training and handling.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink