WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to establish a single regulation to provide assistive dogs, including both guide dogs and service dogs, to veterans.
The benefit would include insurance for veterinary treatment and payment for hardware and its repair. The VA also would pay for travel expenses associated with obtaining a dog.
The VA benefits would only be for veterans with visual, hearing, or substantial mobility impairments, and they only would apply if a VA clinician’s medical judgment indicates that a trained service dog would provide optimal assistance that technological devices or rehabilitative techniques would not. The VA also would require that the dog maintain its ability to function as a service dog, for benefits to continue.
This regulation would provide the VA with discretion to choose between a service dog and assistive technology based on medical judgment rather than on cost.
The VA plans to allow service dog benefits if the dog and veteran have successfully completed a training program by an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation, or both (for dogs that perform both service- and guide-dog assistance).
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