The only service dogs allowed at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities are those servicing the blind. Veterans with mobility and/or hearing issues as well as those using service dogs because they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health conditions are banned from entering all VA facilities unless local officials allow it. If passed, new legislation (HR 1154) would change this situation and allow service dogs in all VA compounds.
The legislation could become active In June, and would affect the entire VA network. The bill was originally sponsored by US Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) and is supported by 35 bipartisan lawmakers. No resistance is expected to passing the bill when it comes up for vote.
Service dogs for hearing and mobility impairments as well as for those veterans requiring service dogs to aid with various mental conditions are the bill’s main focus. There is no reason the blind should have full access to VA health care while those requiring the use of service dogs for equally debilitating conditions do not. Access to care should be the focus, not the presence of a guide or service dog.
This legislation is a good step toward getting the VA where it needs to be regarding access to health care by veterans requiring the use of service dogs. According to some, however, there are still strides that must be taken to ensure every veteran receives the health care they deserve, irrespective of their disability.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.