SENATOR SCHUMER: VA Must Not Cut Benefits on Oct. 5 to PTSD Patients With Doctor-Prescribed Service Dogs

Despite years of work by the Army showing the critical value of service dogs for mental health patients (especially PTSD), VA leaders have decided to end medical benefits on Oct. 5, 2012 to veterans with psychiatric injuries who use doctor-prescribed service dogs as therapy. VA leaders claim there’s no evidence dogs are therapeutic and have called for additional studies to determine if service dogs help veterans suffering from conditions such as PTSD, major depression and suicide ideations. Sen. Chuck Schumer has called on VA leaders to cancel their plan to suspend benefits to psychologically-wounded veterans. Pictured at Schumer’s office are Afghanistan veteran Leslie Wohlfeld and her dog Lizzy; Iraq veteran Charles Hernandez and his dog Valor; and Barbara Jenkel of Educated Canines Assisting With Disabilities, with her dog Blip.

Sen. Schumer Calls on VA to Overturn New Service Dog Policy for Vets With PTSD

North Country Gazette, Sept. 17, 2012

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately revise a recent directive that will prevent veterans with PTSD and other mental and emotional disorders from receiving VA benefits for service dogs. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer has called on VA leaders to cancel their plan to suspend benefits to psychologically-wounded veterans who use doctor-prescribed service dogs as part of their therapy. It is unknown how much it costs VA to provide wounded veterans their service dog benefits, but unless there is intervention, VA’s new policy to eliminate benefits for veterans’ service dogs would be become effective Oct. 5, 2012. (Getty)


According to federal law, the VA can reimburse veterans with both physical and mental disabilities for the costs of owning a service dog, if a medical professional deems such a dog to be beneficial. 

However, according to a new VA directive that will go into effect on Oct. 5, only veterans with physical disabilities will have this option, until a VA study on the matter is completed in 2014. 

This is despite evidence that service dogs have the capability to assist those with mental disabilities. 

In the New York metro area, there are approximately 6,614 veterans who suffer from PTSD and are being treated at VA medical facilities or Readjustment Counseling Centers and 182,147 around the country.

Read what the Army’s former top psychiatrist, Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, has to say about the effectiveness of service dogs in PTSD treatment.

Schumer was joined by Barbara Jenkel of Educated Canines Assisting With Disabilities (ECAD), and her dog Blip; Iraq veteran Charles Hernandez and his dog Valor; and Afghanistan veteran Leslie Wohlfeld and her dog Lizzy. 

“Our veterans fought bravely on the field of battle, but unfortunately, for some veterans, the battle does not end once they return home,” said Schumer.

Read the rest of this story:

http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2012/09/17/dogs_for_vets/

Read related story on service dogs and soldiers at Fort Bliss:

https://themilitarysuicidereport.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/harassment-red-tape-is-armys-new-policy-for-wounded-soldiers-prescribed-service-dogs-critics-say/

One Response

  1. […] SENATOR SCHUMER: VA Must Not Cut Benefits on Oct. 5 to PTSD Patients With Doctor-Prescribed Service … (themilitarysuicidereport.wordpress.com) […]

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