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Congressman Mike Thompson

Representing the 5th District of CALIFORNIA

Napa Valley Register: Canine Companions launches pilot program to benefit veterans

Dec 1, 2016
News Articles

Rep. Mike Thompson and Santa Rosa-based national nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence held a press conference Tuesday to highlight the recent launch of a pilot program through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that offers service dog benefits to veterans with mental health diagnoses.

At the request of Thompson and Canine Companions, the VA launched a program that will pair 100 veterans who experience a mental health diagnosis that limits their mobility, including their ability to conduct normal social activities and navigate public spaces, with a highly trained assistance dog. Until now, the VA had only offered benefits for service dogs to veterans who experienced a physical disability, such as blindness, deafness and loss of limb.

“I’ve seen firsthand the tremendous benefits service dogs provide for our veterans dealing with invisible wounds of war, like PTS and traumatic brain injuries, and I’m so glad that by hosting today’s event, others will be able to see those benefits firsthand too,” said Thompson. “I’ve been so proud to work with Canine Companions for Independence to make the service dog benefit available through the VA for veterans with mental health conditions, and to significantly reduce the time it takes for veterans to be paired with a service dog. Because I strongly believe that service dogs are not just changing lives, they’re saving lives among our veterans with PTS.”
“The service dog pilot program will provide the opportunity for veterans with PTS to fully engage the numerous benefits of a highly trained assistance dog,” said Canine Companions for Independence CEO Paul Mundell.