Since AMVETS members and their assistance dogs stormed Capitol Hill in March to raise awareness of the benefits to today's wounded veterans, AMVETS Deputy National Legislative Director Christina Roof has been working with Congressional offices, bolstering support for a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
AMVETS' letter calls for an update from VA on progress of the assistance dog benefits study commissioned in the 2010 Defense Authorization--a measure successfully spearheaded by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
In the weeks leading up to sending the letter to Secretary Shinseki, AMVETS secured 14 signatures from a bipartisan group of legislators, including leading Congressional voices on veterans' issues, Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), who spearheaded efforts to expand availability of PTSD treatment, and Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), who led efforts in the House to pass the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act.
The letter, which can be viewed by clicking on the images above, calls on VA to furnish Congress with a report on progress in commissioning a three-year study on the benefits of assistance dogs for today's wounded veterans.
Under the 2010 Defense Authorization, VA had 270 days to commence the study, leaving VA with a July 2010 deadline.
AMVETS leaders will continue to work with VA for an update on the assistance dog study, tracking the issue closely. AMVETS has recognized the benefits assistance animals can offer wounded veterans since partnering with non-profit Paws With A Cause to place assistance dogs with worthy wounded veterans. Today, AMVETS is the only major veterans' service organization actively addressing the issue.
As VA's study moves forward, check back regularly with American Veteran Online for updates.
(Images: Congressional letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki calling for an update to the assistance dog study for wounded veterans.)