VA provides service dog benefits to Veterans with mental health disorders


VA announced today that it is piloting a protocol to implement veterinary health benefits for mobility service dogs approved for Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with mental health disorders.

“We take our responsibility for the care and safety of Veterans very seriously,” said VA Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David J. Shulkin. “VA is committed to providing appropriate, safe and effective, compassionate care to all Veterans. Implementing the veterinary health benefit for mobility service dogs approved for Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with mental health disorders may prove to be significantly beneficial for some Veterans. The Service Dog Benefits Pilot will evaluate this premise.”

VA has been providing veterinary benefits to Veterans diagnosed as having visual, hearing or substantial mobility impairments and whose rehabilitation and restorative care is clinically determined to be optimized through the assistance of a guide dog or service dog. With this pilot, this benefit is being provided to Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with a mental health disorder for whom the service dog has been identified as the optimal way for the Veteran to manage the mobility impairment and live independently.

Service dogs are distinguished from pets and comfort animals because they are specially trained to perform tasks or work for a specific individual with a disability who cannot perform the task or accomplish the work independently. To be eligible for the veterinary health benefit, the service dog must be trained by an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International in accordance with VA regulations.

Currently, 652 Veterans with approved guide or service dogs receive the veterinary service benefit. This pilot is anticipated to provide the veterinary service benefit to up to 100 additional Veterans with a chronic impairment that substantially limits mobility associated with a mental health disorder.

The VA veterinary service benefit includes comprehensive wellness and sick care (annual visits for preventive care, maintenance care, immunizations, dental cleanings, screenings, etc.), urgent/emergent care, prescription medications, and care for illnesses or disorders when treatment enables the dog to perform its duties in service to the Veteran.

Additional information about VA’s service dog program can be found here.


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  1. Alan Johnson    

    Another great idea to better serve our Veterans. I am in support of this as there are many benefits that humans receive from K-9’s.

  2. Robert James Filippino    

    It sure would be great to expand this program to provide service dogs for diabetics. These dogs are trained to sense a quick drop in a patient’s blood sugar level long before that individual feels it. I know these dogs are available and I have seen them in action.
    I am one of those Vets that could really use one as my blood sugar levels at times will drop from a comfortable 120’s to less than 50 in a matter of 15 minutes. I have passed out more than once and one time I actually projected myself into to wall when this happened. I have the photos and hospital records to prove it. Help here please as many of my fellow Disabled Vets suffer from this condition. Thanks!

  3. Oliver Morgan    

    I am a 100% service connected Vietnam veteran. 100% service connected PTSD, 100% service connected total losses of both lower extremities and 80% service connected loss of hearing, would I qualify for a service dog. I have a 2 year old Cocker Spaniel and she sleeps at the foot of my bed, she helps with my sleeping disorder, I have a letter from my doctor saying that this has helped me tremendously, she’s not certified as a service dog so I can’t take her into stores or hotels. Please help me Thank you, God blessWC

    1. Dennis Wilson    

      in Salt Lake City Utah there is an organization called K-9’s with a Cause, If you can get a doctor to sign a letter that states that a service dog would be very helpful to you then they have classes that you go to and they teach you how to train your dog and they have the people there that does the testing as well. they tell you all the things you need to pass your test. I have been with my dog in training for 9 months and they will give you everything that you need for training. If you have a pet you want to train they will check them out to make sure they are trainable or if you need a dog they get dogs from animal shelters and then take them to the prison where they learn the basics and then when they are ready then you will get time to get to know the dog and see if he or she take to you. Learning how to train a dog has been really helpful because now I feel like I have a reason to fight for and to help others. There is no cost to the Vet and you learn how to care for your dog as well.

    2. Gary Langford Jr    

      Oliver Morgan’s: they don’t have to be certified as a service dog to be taken into stores or anywhere else. Read the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it will explain everything about the laws pertaining to Service Animals.. Thank you for your Service. God Bless. Hope that this helps you!!

  4. dwight epps    

    I am rated 100% ptsd and agent orange diebetic would I qulifie for k-9

  5. kathy jenson    

    My husband is 100 percent disabled for PTSD. He won’t go to crowded places. Has a hard time going to VA in the city, has flashbacks. Etc. We got the run around about a service dog so we adopted a shepherd. He helps with nightmares and things but I cant find anybody to train him as a service dog.
    Any help with that?

    1. Megan Moloney    

      There are some additional links to resources on the VA’s service dogs page at — they’re at the bottom of the page if you’d like to check them out.

    2. Jewell    

      There’s an organization called Veterans K9 Solution.
      They have help many vested with PTSD
      Look them up on FaceBook.

  6. Terese Cossette    

    Would a 100% disability because of ALS qualify? I am still mobile but it is a progressive disorder. Recently saw a young former soldier at an airport and as a nurse I could see he was anxious. After checking his flight info his service dog led him to a quiet area and they sat physically reassuring each other and I was so very pleased that the dog and his partner were united.

  7. DON MOSLEY    

    As far as stores, and hotels. If ou say your Spsnirl is a servicedog, Then it is a service dog.
    It is illegal to inquire about the nature your disability

  8. Sharpn    

    Well I know I have tried in Michigan to get a service dog for my PTSD and I am 100 disabled veteran. There are NO organizations that will help. Yet a friend in Florida has received 2 dogs for his PTSD. Go figure.

  9. Leslie Wohlfeld    

    I have tried for over a year to have the paperwork approved from my mobility service dog. Was told by the Chief of Prosthetics denied because SD is a mobility dog. I attempted to have the paperwork signed off by the DRs at PM and R only to tell me to my face they dont issues SD and they dont believe in them. Since having my mobility SD, I have not fallen in over 5 yrs. The way the Drs and staff treated me as a combat disable veteran is shameful and disgraceful. Good luck to those veterans attempting to get the paperwork approved for their SD and or veterinary costs.

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