Text: H.R.183 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (01/04/2013)

 
[Congressional Bills 113th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 183 Introduced in House (IH)]

113th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 183

   To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot 
                    program on dog training therapy.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            January 4, 2013

Mr. Grimm (for himself and Mr. Michaud) introduced the following bill; 
        which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
   To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot 
                    program on dog training therapy.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act''.

SEC. 2. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS PILOT PROGRAM ON DOG TRAINING 
              THERAPY.

    (a) In General.--Commencing not later than 120 days after the date 
of the enactment of the Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
carry out a pilot program for the purpose of assessing the 
effectiveness of addressing post-deployment mental health and post-
traumatic stress disorder symptoms through a therapeutic medium of 
training service dogs for veterans with disabilities.
    (b) Duration of Pilot Program.--The pilot program required by 
subsection (a) shall be carried out at least three and not more than 
five Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers during the five-
year period beginning on the date of the commencement of the pilot 
program.
    (c) Locations of Pilot Program.--In selecting medical centers for 
the pilot program required under subsection (a), the Secretary shall 
ensure that each medical center selected provides a training area for 
educating veterans with mental health conditions in the art and science 
of service dog training and handling. Such training area shall--
            (1) include a dedicated space that is suitable for grooming 
        and training dogs indoors;
            (2) be wheelchair accessible;
            (3) include classroom or lecture space;
            (4) include office space for staff;
            (5) include a suitable space for storing training 
        equipment;
            (6) provide for periodic use of other training areas for 
        training the dogs with wheelchairs and conducting other 
        exercises;
            (7) include outdoor exercise and toileting space for dogs; 
        and
            (8) provide transportation for weekly field trips to train 
        dogs in other environments.
    (d) Design of Pilot Program.--In carrying out the pilot program 
under this section, the Secretary shall--
            (1) administer the program through the Recreation Therapy 
        Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs under the 
        direction of a certified recreational therapist with sufficient 
        administrative experience to oversee all pilot program sites;
            (2) establish, for purposes of overseeing the training of 
        dogs at medical centers selected for the pilot program, a 
        director of service dog training with a background working in 
        social services, experience in teaching others to train service 
        dogs in a vocational setting, and at least one year of 
        experience working with veterans or active duty service members 
        with post-traumatic stress disorder in a clinical setting;
            (3) ensure that each pilot program site has certified 
        service dog training instructors;
            (4) ensure that in selecting assistance dogs for use in the 
        program, dogs residing in animal shelters or foster homes are 
        looked at as an option, if appropriate, and ensure that all 
        dogs used in the program have adequate temperament and health 
        clearances;
            (5) ensure that each service dog in training participating 
        in the pilot program is taught all essential commands 
        pertaining to service dog skills;
            (6) ensure that each service dog in training lives at the 
        pilot program site or a volunteer foster home in the vicinity 
        of such site while receiving training;
            (7) ensure that the pilot program involves both lecture of 
        service dog training methodologies and practical hands-on 
        training and grooming of service dogs; and
            (8) ensure that the pilot program is designed to--
                    (A) maximize the therapeutic benefits to veterans 
                participating in the program; and
                    (B) provide well-trained service dogs to veterans 
                with disabilities.
    (e) Veteran Eligibility.--A veteran with post-traumatic stress 
disorder or other post-deployment mental health condition may volunteer 
to participate in the pilot program under subsection (a) if the 
Secretary determines that there are adequate program resources 
available for such veteran at the pilot program site. Veterans may 
participate in the pilot program in conjunction with the compensated 
work therapy program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    (f) Hiring Preference.--In hiring service dog training instructors 
under the pilot program under subsection (a), the Secretary shall give 
a preference to veterans who have successfully graduated from post-
traumatic stress disorder or other residential treatment programs and 
who have received adequate certification in service dog training.
    (g) Collection of Data.--The Secretary shall collect data on the 
pilot program required under subsection (a) to determine how effective 
the program is for the veterans participating in the program. Such data 
shall include data to determine how effectively the program assists 
veterans in--
            (1) reducing stigma associated with post-traumatic stress 
        disorder or other post-deployment mental health condition;
            (2) improving emotional regulation;
            (3) improving patience;
            (4) instilling or re-establishing a sense of purpose;
            (5) providing an opportunity to help fellow veterans;
            (6) reintegrating into the community;
            (7) exposing the dog to new environments and in doing so, 
        helping the veteran reduce social isolation and withdrawal;
            (8) building relationship skills, including parenting 
        skills;
            (9) relaxing the hyper-vigilant survival state;
            (10) improving sleep patterns; and
            (11) enabling veterans to decrease the use of pain 
        medication.
    (h) Reports to Congress.--Not later than one year after the date of 
the commencement of the pilot program under subsection (a), and each 
year thereafter for the duration of the pilot program, the Secretary 
shall submit to Congress a report on the pilot program. Each such 
report shall include--
            (1) the number of veterans participating in the pilot 
        program;
            (2) a description of the services carried out by the 
        Secretary under the pilot program;
            (3) the effects that participating in the pilot program has 
        on the following--
                    (A) symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and 
                post-deployment adjustment difficulties, including 
                depression, maintenance of sobriety, suicidal 
                ideations, and homelessness;
                    (B) potentially relevant physiological markers that 
                possibly relate to the interactions with the service 
                dogs;
                    (C) family dynamics;
                    (D) insomnia and pain management; and
                    (E) overall well-being; and
            (4) the recommendations of the Secretary with respect to 
        the extension or expansion of the pilot program.
    (i) Definition.--For the purposes of this section, the term 
``service dog training instructor'' means an instructor who provides 
the direct training of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and 
other post-deployment issues in the art and science of service dog 
training and handling.
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