Amata cosponsors bipartisan PAWS for Veterans bill
Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata is an original cosponsor in the 117th Congress of H.R. 1448, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. This unique therapy bill, which pairs Veterans and service dogs to treat mental illness, was examined Thursday in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC).
Congresswoman Amata also cosponsored the effort in the prior Congress, introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), but the idea has gained considerable support, and similar legislation is underway in the Senate.
The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act will create a special pilot program within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to give veterans access to treatment for mental illness through working with service dogs. In this effort, the VA will partner with non-profit organizations working with veterans and service dogs to create work-therapy programs. These Veterans learn the art and science of training dogs, giving them a new mission and new skills while gaining proven personal health benefits.
Upon completion of the program, the veterans may choose to adopt their dogs gaining continuing therapy.
“This is a wonderful idea that puts proven therapy to good use,” said Congresswoman Amata. “During training, the dog is a source of wellbeing and purpose to a Veteran, while becoming a fully trained and valuable service dog to either help others, or stay with that Veteran. I want to thank and congratulate my friend Congressman Stivers for his leadership that has resulted in so much new support for this bill.”
According to studies by Kaiser Permanente and Purdue University, working with service dogs alleviates symptoms of PTS, leads to better interpersonal relationships, lowers the risk of substance abuse, lowers the risk of suicide, and leads to overall better mental health.
GRANT FOR HEALTH CENTERS
Thursday, Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata was pleased to welcome a Pacific Basin health grant for the American Samoa Department of Health of over $3.1 million.
The discretionary grant for health centers, specifically $3,151,597, is through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).
“Thank you especially to Seiuli Elisapeta Ponausuia, and congratulations to Governor Lemanu and his administration, DOH Director Motusa Nua, and everyone involved with these programs,” said Aumua Amata. “Health care funding is important to our people. Thank you to the HHS Secretary Xavier Becarra, and HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa.”