Hello Friends. How many of you take your service dog with you to VA Hospital appointments? If you answered, "I do", you are one of the lucky ones. Your VHA allows you to do so. We're hearing that a lot of VHA Facilities don't allow service dogs entry. Sickening, isn't it.
Don't get me wrong, what they will allow are Guide dogs. The service dogs they don't allow are dogs like mine. Dogs who assist with mobility issues; dogs who assist with PTSD; dogs who assist with autism; hearing dogs. Get the idea?
Click this link . Someone has finally taken notice of our plight. Representative John Carter from Texas has introduced legislation "to mandate service dogs have access to any VA facility, recognizing their importance to veterans’ physical and mental health." AMVETS is backing this all the way.
Thank goodness for AMVETS. I know that since I first started fighting for benefits for my service dog, Rocco, I have gotten a lot of help from them. They have done extensive work in the service dog area. Look here to see the letter they sent to Director Shinseki, asking him to close loopholes in the current service dog policy ... or lack thereof.
It's just been pointed out to me that new rules have been issued by the VHA. Guide and other service dogs are now allowed inside VHA Facilities. HOWEVER, dogs that assist with emotional support only are still not allowed in. My dog is a dual purpose dog. That is, he serves as a mobility and PTSD/medical alert dog. If he were not allowed in with me, I wouldn't be going to any of my appointments. Literally. OR, I'd be going in there kicking and screaming. You can count on that. They'd either be arresting me or locking me up on the psych ward for sure. You can take that bet straight to the bank.
The article I've linked to the blog title centers around a Veteran by the name of Kevin Stone and his service dog, Mambo. Mambo was one of the first service dogs to be declared as a prosthetic device by the VA. As such, Mambo receives the benefits that I'm fighting to receive for my dog, Rocco. Unfortunately, I'm not "an accomplished Paralympics Archer" with a politician in my back pocket. Hell, I can barely get my Congress Critter to help me (see previous blog). It seems that to get benefits for a service dog you have to know someone, be someone, get your picture in the paper, etc. We "little people" haven't got a chance. If you have any secrets, please share them with the rest of us.
By the way, I go to James A Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa. I've never been stopped. My doctors all love my dog. I've seen a lot of service dogs there. If you're at one of those VA Hospitals that gives you problems, I'd like to hear from you. I'd be happy to publish a "Bad Dog" list.
One last thing, Friends. I'm working on a blog that will list service dog schools. If you have one that you'd like to recommend to others, please send the link to me at WendiG@vawatchdogtoday.org. I'll get it published. Thanks.
Until the next time .....