Sending Office: Honorable James P. McGovern
Sent By:

Deadline to Sign on is COB Wednesday, March 14

**This letter supports two requests within Defense: one programmatic and one language request**

FY18 Cosigners: Walter Jones, Donovan, Pocan, Shea-Porter, Sessions, Dingell, Lynch, Yarmuth, Titus, Brownley, Kind, Kuster, Fitzpatrick, DeFazio, Walz, Lipinski, Hastings, Rice, Gaetz, Johnson, LoBiondo, Robin Kelly, Gwen Moore, Neal,
Holmes Norton, Pingree, Welch, Cardenas, Delaney, Frankel, Comstock, Deutch, Sarbanes, Conyers, Schakowsky, Cohen, Chu, Loebsack, Sires, Faso, Lowenthal, DeSaulnier, O’Rourke, Polis, Raskin, Lujan, Soto, Speier, Mike Thompson, Vargas, Watson Coleman, Peters

FY19 Cosigners: Walter Jones, McSally, DeFazio, Hastings, Deutch, Vargas, Mike Thompson, Lynch, LoBiondo, Gwen Moore, Barbara Lee, Yarmuth, Walz, Schakowsky, Lowenthal, Shea-Porter, Fitzpatrick, Delaney, Raskin, Chu, Sires, Frankel,
Sablan, Soto, Comstock, Neal, Lipinski, Brownley, Hank Johnson


Dear Colleague

Please join us in supporting our veterans by requesting $7 million in funding for a competitive grant program that supports nonprofit organizations committed to connecting servicemembers and veterans with service dogs within the FY2019 Department of Defense
Appropriations bill.

As you well know, so many of our service members and veterans return home from the battlefield suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), blindness or impaired vision, the loss of a limb, paralysis, impaired mobility,
loss of hearing, and other mental and physical disabilities. Sadly, too many also struggle with suicidal thoughts and the inability to reintegrate into the social framework of their families and communities. Working with a trained service dog is a promising
form of therapy and assistance for these veterans and servicemembers, one that has already been proven to help civilians who confront similar mental and physical disabilities.

Many nonprofit organizations that provide training for service dogs are limited in their ability to connect service dogs with veterans and servicemembers due to financial constraints. Providing adequate grant funding opportunities for nonprofits professionally
engaged in this area of treatment is critical to ensuring that we provide our servicemembers and veterans with the care they deserve.

Building upon funds provided in Fiscal Years ’15, ’16, and ’17, this request will continue to fund a competitive grant pilot program for qualified nonprofit organizations whose mission is to address the physical and mental health needs of servicemembers and
veterans with assistance from service dogs. Currently, the Pentagon is studying and evaluating the potential benefits of service dogs and canine therapy. We support such research, and view this pilot program as a welcome complement in assisting the Defense
Department with a wider sample of veterans and servicemembers who are engaged with and benefiting from the assistance of service dogs.

The demand amongst veterans for service dogs continues to grow as research increasingly demonstrates that service dogs can help treat symptoms of PTSD. Rather than relegating these veterans to a waiting list, let’s continue to support these highly technical
non-profits so that they can continue to do what they do best – help our veterans.

To sign onto this letter or for more information, please contact Russell Halliday at or Raymond Celeste at


James P. McGovern                            Walter B. Jones                                  Martha McSally
Member of Congress                           Member of Congress                        Member of Congress



March 19, 2018

Dear Chairwoman Granger and Ranking Member Visclosky,

As you determine funding and policy priorities for the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Act, we ask that you provide $7 million in funding for competitive grant programs to support nonprofit organizations committed to connecting service dogs with
servicemembers and veterans.

In addition to support for funding for this competitive grant program, we also request that you include the following report language.

The committee is aware that canine therapy for treatment of PTSD and TBI symptoms is a promising alternative or adjunct to pharmaceutical treatment, which can have harmful side-effects. In testimony before Congress, witnesses from the Services were positive
about the potential for this treatment, calling canine therapy for PTSD “an emerging area of alternative therapy” that is “beneficial in the support of people with either physical or mental health diagnoses,” and that can “help reduce anxiety, lower emotional
reactivity, and provide a sense of security.” While still experimental, canine therapy has shown effectiveness in treating PTSD and other psychological disorders, from hospitalized psychiatric patients to children with developmental disorders, patients with
substance abuse problems, and victims of trauma. The Services report that service members who participate in their canine programs for PTSD and TBI show more positive social interactions, a decrease in suicidal thoughts, an increased sense of safety, independence,
motivation, and self-efficacy. The committee notes that canine therapy is a promising area for further research as a complementary or alternative treatment for the signature wounds of the ongoing conflict. Therefore, the committee provides funds and continues
to encourage the Services to initiate or expand their research into canine therapy to validate its therapeutic effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD and TBI.

Given that so many of our service men and women are returning home with both physical and mental health disabilities, it is critical that we continue to provide them with access to multiple treatment resources. Many nonprofit organizations who train service
dogs are limited in their ability to connect service dogs with veterans and service members due to financial constraints. This request builds upon the funding provided in Fiscal Years 2015, 2016, and 2017 to ensure adequate grant funding opportunities for
these nonprofits and expand efforts to research this important issue. Such funds are critical to ensuring that we provide our service members and veterans with the care they deserve.

Service dogs are helping to treat veterans with physical disabilities as well as individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress. Assistance dogs help service men and women lead more independent lives, assisting with mobility and balance, retrieving and
carrying objects, responding to sounds, getting help, and providing social interaction and companionship. Trained dogs also offer many therapeutic benefits to soldiers and veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress by elevating their moods, building confidence, and
reducing stress, all of which ease the transition back into civilian life. Thank you for your consideration of this request.



James P. McGovern                                        Walter B. Jones                                          Martha McSally

Member of Congress                                       Member of Congress                                 Member of Congress

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Armed Services, Veterans

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