Cole Lyle, a Marine veteran, used to endure horrific nightmares as part of the PTSD he has suffered ever since serving in Afghanistan. But, thanks to his service dog, Lyle has had some help with his nighttime terrors. As a result, he says his waking hours have been better, too. Now the Texas man is lobbying on behalf of other veterans with PTSD, urging the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to change its policies and to provide service animals as part of its treatment for these vets.
On Thursday, Lyle testified before Congress, telling the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about Kaya, his own service dog, and all of the support, companionship and health benefits she has given him, ABC News reports. He purchased Kaya on his own through an Assistance Dogs International-accredited trainer, spending more than $10,000 in the process — but not every veteran has those resources.
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 14, 2016
“I believe that allowing veterans to fight PTSD without all options available to them is tantamount to sending our military to fight an enemy without a secondary weapon in their arsenal,” Lyle said, according to ABC News.
The VA does not provide or cover the cost of service animals for veterans with PTSD because the organization says that it does not believe the dogs are particularly effective in helping with that condition. But a new bill, H.R. 4764 (also known as the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act) would launch a five-year pilot program in the VA, one that would allow veterans who served on active duty after September 11 and have been diagnosed with PTSD to be provided with service dogs.
“There are thousands of veteran suicides that could’ve been prevented if they would have had access to a service dog,” Rory Diamond of K9s for Warriors, told Congress.