Rice Joins President Biden at White House as PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act is Signed into Law
Bill will create a pilot program on dog training therapy at the Department of Veterans Affairs and provide service dogs to veterans suffering from mental illness
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-04) joined President Joe Biden at the White House as he signed the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act into law. Rice was the Democratic co-lead on the bipartisan bill introduced by former U.S. Representative Steve Stivers (OH-15).
“It was a great honor to join President Biden at today’s signing ceremony for the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act,” said Rep. Rice. “By creating a pilot program on dog training therapy at the VA, and providing service dogs to veterans, the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act will help our heroes in need. Service dogs are a proven resource for people suffering from a wide array of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, which so many of our veterans struggle with. With an estimated 20 veterans dying every single day by suicide in this country, this bill won’t just improve lives, it will save them.”
“I am grateful to my colleagues in the House and Senate who supported this bill,” continued Rice. “And I want to especially thank my friend, former Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, who led the introduction of the bill in the House and ensured we got it passed before he left office in May.”
The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act will create a pilot program within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to provide veterans with access to treatment through work with service dogs. The VA will partner with non-profit organizations working with veterans and service dogs to create work-therapy programs where veterans can learn the art and science of training dogs. Upon completion of the program, the veterans may adopt their dogs to provide continuing therapy.
In the House, U.S. Representatives Michael Waltz (FL-06), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), John Rutherford (FL-04), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and Neal Dunn (FL-02) joined Stivers and Rice to co-lead the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act. U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (NC), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Kevin Cramer (ND), and Dianne Feinstein (CA) led the companion legislation in the Senate. The bill passed both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year.