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You are here News Military More veterans with PTSD will soon get help from service dogs. Thank the 'PAWS' Act

More veterans with PTSD will soon get help from service dogs. Thank the 'PAWS' Act

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PAWS act

It's supper time in the Whittier, California, home of Air Force Veteran Danyelle Clark-Gutierrez. Eagerly awaiting a bowl of kibble and canned dog food is Lisa, a three-year-old, yellow Labrador Retriever.

Lisa almost dances with excitement, her nails clicking on the kitchen floor. In this moment, she appears more like an exuberant puppy than an expensive, highly-trained service animal. But that's exactly what Lisa is, and she now helps Clark-Gutierrez manage her post-traumatic stress symptoms in the day-to-day.

"Having her now, it's like I can go anywhere," Clark-Gutierrez says. "And yes, if somebody did come at me, I'd have warning; I could run."

A growing body of research into PTSD and service animals paved the way for President Joe Biden to sign into law the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. The legislation, enacted in August, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to open its service dog referral program to veterans with PTSD, and to launch a five-year pilot program in which veterans with PTSD help train service dogs for other veterans.

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