Ohio congressman wants to get help for veterans with PTSD, reintroducing bill touting therapy dogs

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WASHINGTON (WCMH) — Congressman Steve Stivers (R) from Ohio will reintroduce a bill touting therapy dogs that can save lives of veterans who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He is trying to convince other House members and the U.S. Senate to make this happen.

Stivers has been pushing the bill known as “PAWS,” puppies assisting wounded soldiers, for four years.

WCMH photo

NBC4’s Colleen Marshall asked him, ‘Why this is taking so long to pass?’

“Well Colleen, it should be a no-brainer,” Stivers said.

The idea sure seems that way: Therapy dogs to support the men and women who served their country and came home with PTSD.

“Indeed, these therapy dogs with post-traumatic distress. There’s a lower instance of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, lower instance of symptoms of depression. They need to rely less on psychotropic drugs. They can actually do things again,” said Stivers.

Stivers explained that members of the senate were waiting for a report on the therapy dogs from the Veterans Administration. That report took 10 years. The VA concluded what Stivers already knew: therapy dogs work for people like Vietnam veteran Walter Parker and his dog Jackson.

“Jackson gave him his life back. He had been suicidal, he had essentially been a shut-in in his own home and now he goes out to dinner, goes to movies, goes shopping. He got on the airplane and came to the State of the Union,” said Stivers.

Stivers has 220 co-sponsors in the House, where the bill already passed twice. The Senate has been a stumbling block.

“They do a veterans package around Memorial Day and that’s my goal is to get this through the House and through the Senate before Memorial Day because, unfortunately, we’re losing 20 to 22 veterans to suicide,” Stivers said. “If we can save one of them with this bill, it’s worth every penny. I believe we’ll save thousands of them with this bill.”

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