It’s estimated that 13 to 20 percent of the more than 2.6 million Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 have or could develop PTSD. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. However, according to the ADA, dogs that calm a person with PTSD during an anxiety attack are considered a reasonable modification to ADA policies. The Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for service dogs assigned to veterans with impaired vision, hearing or mobility, but it will not cover the cost of dogs assigned for mental disabilities like post-traumatic stress disorder, according to new federal regulations.
Many dogs provide support to veterans suffering from PTSD, but although more veterans are being diagnosed with the anxiety disorder, the VA says there's not enough evidence that these dogs help with the symptoms of combat-related disabilities. A new Army policy has already made it more difficult for soldiers to obtain service dogs and keep them on Army bases.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that service dogs help veterans cope with PTSD, but research lags and the VA is skeptical.
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