I come to you today bearing good news. That's a change, isn't it. Are you ready?
Are you a disabled Veteran with a service dog? Are you considering getting a service dog? Than you definitely want to read this article published by Occupational Health and Safety, entitled VA Expanding Service Dog Benefits. The title itself is a bit of a misnomer. The VA isn't exactly "expanding" anything. Not yet. Read on.
This is a PROPOSAL to change to a current regulation already in place. It will add SERVICE DOGS to the current VA regulation which currently covers only Guide Dogs. Yes, some of you out there have had service dogs approved but as you know all too well it's been a real battle. This will (should) take the battle out of it for most of us with service dogs. The proposed regulation will define service dogs. It will spell out exactly what is covered by VA Prosthetics. It is also supposed to spell out the steps for applying -- something which varies from VA Hospital to VA Hospital. Wouldn't it be nice to have a standard?
READ THE FULL TEXT HERE: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-16/html/2011-14933.htm I suggest each of you take the time to read this carefully. It describes the proposed changes to the current regulation. Take notes if you have to of things you don't agree with. It will help you to better prepare your comments on this proposal.
HOW CAN YOU HELP? It's easy and it will only take a few minutes of your time. Go to Regulations.gov. There you will see a search key. In the box above it, enter the following, "VA-2011-VHA-0017-0001: AN51-Proposed Rule -Service Dogs" (minus the quotation marks). You have until August 15, 2011 to make comments. State facts. Leave emotions out of it. We all know the VA doesn't care about our emotions or how broke we are. Remember to compare it to a prosthetic device. State why you can't use a standard prosthetic device and why a SD is better for you. The VA will replace and pay to repair our prosthetic devices. Why shouldn't they pay to maintain our dogs? These are working dogs, not pets.
SPREAD THE WORD. Share this blog with every service dog organization you know. Ask them to comment on this proposed regulation. We need to get the word out. Share this with every Veteran you know who has a service dog. The more comments we have the better off we are. We want the VA, particularly Neal Eckrich, to know that we are paying attention. In your comments, tell him what type of service dog you have, not the breed, but what the dog does to assist, as in mobility, seizures, balance, etc.
WHAT THIS IS NOT. This is not for PTSD or mental health dogs. Let's be clear about that. The VA is currently conducting a three year study on the effects of PTSD dogs and their "value" to those of us with PTSD. This is strictly about service dogs that assist us with mobility issues, seizure issues, etc. Read the proposed explanation for further details.
Good luck everyone. Remember, spread this blog far and wide. Encourage everyone you know to comment on this proposed regulation. Let the folks at VA HQ in DC know we are paying attention and we're not going to let this one get by us without our comments. This is too critical for all of us to do nothing.
Until the next time I leave you with these photos of Rocco and me out on the town. I couldn't have done this without Rocco. Thanks to Service Dogs of Florida for helping me train and certify him!