It dawned on me that I haven’t mentioned the new VA directive on service dogs and guide dogs here, and since it came out last month without a lotta fanfare, I should.  And also mention the two corresponding bills in Congress designed to put the directive change into law.

The intent of the new directive is to correct a long-standing issue that I’ve written about here before (“AMVETS Addresses Two Tough Issues Concerning Service Dogs For Veterans”) where veterans with service dogs (even those approved by VA) were not allowed to take those dogs into VA medical facilities. In the past, each facility director was allowed to make their own policy, VA in DC couldn’t (or wouldn’t) step up and create a uniform policy for service dogs (as had been done long ago for guide dogs), but they have now done that.

I’ve included the entire directive in the images below, just click on them for the big versions. You can also download the PDF here:

“VHA Dir 2011-013, Guide Dogs and Service Dogs on Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Property”

VA says they have done a lot internally to educate their people about the new directive via publications, e-mail, and conference calls. I’ll be interested to hear what veterans encounter in individual facilities.

Note there are also two bills in Congress intended to codify this change, the concept being that, while directives are nice, faces change and we need to get this one into the law. If you’ve been here more than once, no secret to you that I’m not a big fan of trying to do things via the law for a number of reasons, not the least of which is you never really can count on what you’ll get. (All you need to do is look at the Stolen Valor Act – we have judges who’ve ruled that lying about your military service record is free speech protected by the First Amendment. Yeah, right.)

Nonetheless, I think this is a great idea and needs to be done. The House bill is H.R. 1154, “Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act”; the Senate one is S. 769 – you can track those here:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h112-1154

http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=bill%3As112-769

If you are so inclined, contact your representatives and let them know you support these two bills.