The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides an array of benefits and support to America’s active servicemembers and military veterans. Healthcare is one major aspect, with the agency operating more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, counseling centers, and other healthcare facilities all across the country. It also provides various forms of financial aid, job training and placement assistance, and other support.
Among the many ways the VA works for disabled veterans, it helps them acquire a guide, hearing, or service dog when appropriate. For those who became disabled in the course of their military service in ways that can be mitigated by an assistance dog partnership, the VA can help with the process and costs of such a partnership.
Note that the VA does not directly raise, train, or provide assistance dogs. Rather, it refers veterans to qualified, unaffiliated providers that are accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). The VA pays the fees associated with acquiring the dog, as well as accompanying equipment (like harnesses and backpacks) and veterinary costs.
The VA does not, however, pay for general supply and care expenses associated with having a dog. These include things like dog food, treats, toys, bedding, grooming, parasite control, over-the-counter medications, boarding, and so on.
Assistance dog partnerships fall under the auspices of the VA’s Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services department. All veterans’ cases are reviewed to determine whether they can properly care for a guide, hearing, or service dog; whether they will benefit in meaningful ways from partnership with a working dog; and whether other assistive technologies or therapies would be more effective or should be prescribed in conjunction with an assistance dog.
Find more information about assistance dogs from the VA at its Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services page on guide and service dogs. You’ll also find links to some useful assistance dog resources on the page, as well as links for applying for benefits and healthcare services through the VA site.