Dogs have long been known as man’s best friend. For some disabled veterans, this old adage has a deeper meaning. Service dogs and guide dogs are used to help disabled veterans accomplish a wide range of tasks. VA benefits for service dogs are available to veterans who qualify, but many critics are now saying the VA isn’t using service dogs to their full potential.
There are two main kinds of dogs the VA uses to help disabled veterans: service dogs and guide dogs. Not any dog can be considered a service or guide dog. There is a strict standard of training and certification that dogs must go through before they can act as a service or guide dog.
A service dog is trained to do specific tasks for a veteran who is disabled. Service dogs can pick things up or help a vet keep their balance. These dogs are very versatile and can even be trained to open a fridge and grab a bottle of water for their master.
Guide dogs help veterans with vision impairments walk and avoid obstacles. They help their master know when to stop and when to turn.
When a veteran applies for a guide dog or service dog the VA will approve or deny their application based on the following.
· Ability and means, including family or caregiver, to care for the dog currently and in the future
· Goals that are to be accomplished through the use of the dog
· Goals that are to be accomplished through other assistive technology or therapy
If veterans are approved the VA will pay for veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids. However, the VA will not pay for boarding, grooming, food, or any other routine expenses associated with owning a dog.
Small studies have recently suggested that service dogs can not only help veterans accomplish everyday tasks, but can also help vets cope with the effects of PTSD. Despite the critics, the VA doesn’t accept PTSD alone as grounds for service dog benefits.
The VA has stated that no official study has been completed and there is not definitive data. Currently, the VA is conducting a study on the effect of service dogs on veterans with PTSD.
If you are in need of VA benefits to help with your disability, Jan Dils Attorneys at Law can help.