The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced that it is piloting a program for mobility service dogs approved for Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with mental health disorders. VA has been providing veterinary benefits to Veterans diagnosed as having visual, hearing or substantial mobility impairments. With this pilot program, Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility due to a mental health disorder, and for whom a service dog has been identified as treatment for managing their impairment and living independently, may be provided with the same benefits.
Service dogs are different from pets in that they are trained to perform tasks or work for a specific individual with a disability who cannot accomplish these tasks independently. To be eligible for the veterinary health benefit, the service dog must be trained by an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
Currently, 652 Veterans with approved guide or service dogs receive the veterinary service benefit. This pilot program is anticipated to provide the veterinary service benefit to up to 100 additional Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with a mental health disorder.
Additional information about VA’s service dog program can be found athttp://www.prosthetics.va.gov/ServiceAndGuideDogs.asp