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NewsFlash | Service Dogs

Service Dogs

United States Navy Wounded Warrior standing with Service DogAmericans with Disabilities Act — Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Service animals are working animals, not pets. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. 

Service Dogs — Service dogs are guide or service dogs prescribed for a disabled veteran for the purpose of the veteran being diagnosed as having a visual, hearing, or substantial mobility impairment. VA’s authority for Service Dogs (guide, hearing, seizure, and mobility dogs) is in 38 CFR 17.148 - Service Dogs. To apply, Veterans may contact their clinician or facility Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service department. A referral to a specialist may be requested through the assigned VA primary care provider. The specialist will complete an evaluation and make a clinical determination on the need for assistive devices, including a service dog. Each Veteran's case is reviewed and evaluated by a prescribing clinician for the following:

  • Means to care for the dog currently and in the future.
  • Goals that are accomplished through the use of the dog.
  • Goals that are to be accomplished through other assistive technology or therapy.

VA provides a veterinary health insurance benefit and other benefits in support of service dogs to maximize the life and utility of these specialized dogs. In order to qualify the dog must be trained and from an Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) accredited service dog organization. This ensures Veterans receive the highest level of quality and training standards. The veteran must provide to VA a certificate showing successful completion issued by the accredited organization that provided such program. VA does not provide Service Dogs but does provide this insurance benefit for eligible Veterans through VHA Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service which administers this program. 

A service dog named Moxie leads the parade for athletes into Soldier Field for the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Dept. of Defense Warrior Games at the United Center in Chicago July 1, 2017. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)Assistance Dogs International (ADI) — ADI is a worldwide coalition of not-for-profit programs that train and place Assistance Dogs. ADI is a coalition of non-profit organizations that raise, train and place assistance dogs. ADI does not directly provide, train, certify or register individual assistance dogs or assistance dog teams, as that is the function of our member organizations. ADI certification is only available to assistance dog partnered teams that were trained by our accredited member programs. Assistance Dogs is a generic term for a guide, hearing, or service dog specifically trained to do three or more tasks to mitigate the effects of an individual’s disability. The presence of a dog for protection, personal defense, or comfort does not qualify that dog as an assistance dog. ADI does not recognize emotional support dogs. Most ADI accredited programs do not train, place or certify emotional support dogs.

ADI Accredited Members in VISN 20 — Accredited members are programs that have met the high standards set by ADI.


PAWS for Purple Hearts — Paws for Purple Hearts is the first program of its kind to offer Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy, also known as Canine Assisted Therapeutic Intervention, to Veterans and active-duty military personnel.


Brigadoon Service Dogs — Brigadoon Service Dogs Canines and Heroes for Independence program provides for Veterans who suffer from PTSD and TBI. Tactile stimulation can be very calming in stressful situations. In addition, the dog can be trained to nudge his partner to “snap” the veteran out of a frozen moment caused by anxiety, or wake him up from a nightmare or night terrors by turning on a light. In public situations, the veteran can give a cue for the dog to stand between himself and other people to reduce his anxiety.

190625-N-PS962-0015 TAMPA, Fla. (June 25, 2019) – Team Navy member Cmdr. Robert Fry hugs his service dog at the 2019 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games, June 25. Team Navy is comprised of athletes from Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor, the Navy’s sole organization for coordinating the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, providing resources and support to their families. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Petty Officer Louis Thompson Staats IV)Summit Assistance Dogs — Summit Assistance Dogs has become one of the leading providers of assistance dogs in Washington State, and the need for our services continues to grow as more and more people recognize the benefits of these life-changing partnerships. Summit trains mobility assistance dogs to help people with various mobility challenges by retrieving dropped items, turning lights on and off, opening doors, tugging off clothing, and many other tasks to assist with the activities of daily living, increasing safety and independence, and providing companionship.

Assistance Dogs Northwest — Assistance Dogs Northwest are committed to serving people in Washington, Oregon and Idaho with other special needs through our Facility Dog and Community Outreach Programs. Assistance Dogs Northwest’s Therapy Dog Teams visit veterans with physical disabilities, amputations and PTSD at local agencies around the state. These teams are proud to serve the men and women who bravely serve our country.


PAWS Assisting Veterans Inc. — Service dogs provide immense support for Veterans to improve their quality of life. Our purpose at PAVE is to help more Veterans access the benefits of service dogs. By offering customized training and lifetime support, we make a tangible and significant difference in the lives of Veterans. If you’re a Veteran who is ready to regain your independence, contact us today to learn more.

Joys of Living Assistance Dogs — Providing skilled, devoted companions to support and assist veterans, first responders, and others with disabilities, creating cohesive teams focused on building a life of greater freedom and independence. 

International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) — The IGDF is comprised of 95 member organizations, whose purpose is to serve people who are blind or have low vision around the world, by training and providing Guide Dogs. A guide dog is a dog which has been specially trained to help people who are blind or visually impaired with their mobility. Assistance dog is a general term, which includes guide dogs, for any dog which has been specially trained to help a person with a disability to perform specific tasks. Guide dogs make an enormous difference to the lives of blind and visually impaired people. Not only do they bring the gift of independence, they also bring support, companionship and joy to people.

A service dog working with Navy Wounded Warrior during Dept. of Defense Warrior Games. Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) to Pilot in VISN 20 at VA Medical Center in Anchorage Alaska — VA is implementing a five-year pilot program to provide canine training to eligible Veterans diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as an element of a complementary and integrative health program at 5 VA facilities including Anchorage, AK. Veterans are assisting in training candidate service dogs in canine obedience and needed specialized training. Certified dog trainers are leading these groups and most of the dogs being trained will become service dogs for fellow Veterans.

To participate in the pilot program, a Veteran must meet three threshold conditions for eligibility; namely, the Veteran must be:

  1. Enrolled in the VA health care system;
  2. Diagnosed with PTSD; and
  3. Recommended by a VA mental health care provider or VA clinical team.

The PAWS pilot does not involve distributing service dogs. In this pilot, Veterans assist in training candidate service dogs in 8, weekly classes. Data gathered during the PAWS Pilot will be used to assess Veteran outcomes including satisfaction to determine whether to extend or make permanent the pilot program. Additional VA Medical Centers of the PAWS Act pilot program are located in West Palm Beach, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; Asheville, North Carolina; and Palo Alto, California.

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Please note that the health care information provided in these materials is for educational purposes only. It does not replace the role of a medical practitioner for advice on care and treatment. If you are looking for professional medical care, find your local VA healthcare center by using the VA Facilities Locator & Directory. This page may contain links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

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NW MIRECCSpanning 23% of the US land mass, VA Northwest Health Network (VISN 20) is the largest geographic region of VA. In the Pacific Northwest, VISN 20 serves Veterans in 135 counties in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Operating across three time zones over 817,417 square miles, VISN 20 is home to 273 federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes. VISN 20 also serves Veterans in Del Norte and Siskiyou counties of California and Lincoln County Montana. Veterans may be eligible to receive care from a community provider when VA cannot provide the care needed. Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP) provides health care for Veterans from providers in the local community. VCCP includes General Community Care, Urgent Care, Emergency Care, Foreign Medical Care, Home Health and Hospice Care, Indian and Tribal Health Services, In Vitro Fertilization, State Veterans Home, and Flu Shots.

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Vet Centers in VISN 20

VA Vet Center LogoVet Centers in the VISN 20 Health Care Network are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active-duty Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families. 1-877-WAR-VETS is an around the clock confidential call center where Veterans, service members and their families can talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in transitioning after military service or trauma and get connected to their nearest Vet Center.

Vet Centers provide counseling to make a successful transition from military to civilian life or after a traumatic event experienced in the military. Individual, group, marriage and family counseling is offered in addition to referral and connection to other VA or community benefits and services. If you can’t make it to a nearby Vet Center, VA offers satellite Vet Center locations and Mobile Vet Centers that may be closer to you.


Anchorage Vet Center (Anchorage, AK)

Anchorage Satellite Vet Centers in Anchor Point and Homer

Fairbanks Vet Center (Fairbanks, AK)

Fairbanks Satellite Vet Centers in Fort Greely and Fort Wainwright

Kenai Vet Center Outstation (Soldotna, AK)

Wasilla Vet Center (Wasilla, AK)


Central Oregon Vet Center (Bend, OR)

Eugene Vet Center (Eugene, OR)

Eugene Satellite Vet Centers in Florence and Reedsport 

Grants Pass Vet Center (Grants Pass, OR)

Grants Pass Satellite Vet Center in Cave Junction and Grants Pass Mobile Vet Center

Portland, OR Vet Center (Portland, OR)

Portland Satellite Vet Centers in Oregon City, St. Helens, and Vancouver, Washington

Salem Vet Center (Salem, OR)

Salem Mobile Vet Center


Boise Vet Center (Boise, ID)

Boise Satellite Vet Center in Ontario, Oregon and Boise Mobile Vet Center

Spokane Satellite Vet Centers in Couer d'Alene, Kootenai, Post Falls, Fairchild AFB, and Newport, Washington


Bellingham Vet Center (Bellingham, WA)

Everett Vet Center (Everett, WA)

Federal Way Vet Center (Federal Way, WA)

Lacey Vet Center Outstation (Lacey, WA)

Seattle Vet Center (Seattle, WA)

Spokane Vet Center (Spokane, WA)

Spokane Satellite Vet Centers in Fairchild AFB, Newport, Post Falls and Couer d'Alene, Idaho

Spokane Mobile Vet Center

Tacoma Vet Center (Tacoma, WA)

Tacoma Mobile Vet Center

Vancouver Vet Center - Washington State University, Clark County (Vancouver, WA)

Walla Walla Vet Center (Walla Walla, WA)

Yakima Valley Vet Center (Yakima, WA)

Yakima Satellite Vet Center in Ellensburg

Veterans Crisis "988" - The Military Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource for all Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, and Veterans. You're not alone—the Veterans Crisis Line is here for you. For immediate help in dealing with a suicidal crisis, contact the Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 then Press 1. You don't have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to call.

The Military Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource for all Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and Space Force service members, including members of the National Guard and Reserve, and Veterans. You're not alone—the Veterans Crisis Line is here for you. For immediate help in dealing with a suicidal crisis, contact the Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 then Press 1. You don't have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to call.

Call +1 844-702-5495 (off base) or DSN 988 (on base)

Southwest Asia:
Call +1 855-422-7719 (off base) or DSN 988 (on base)

Call +1 844-702-5493 (off base) or DSN 988 (on base)

A Veteran overseas may contact the Veterans Crisis Line via the chat modality at If the Veteran prefers a phone call, they can request this within the chat venue. For TTY users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Are you looking for clinical care or counseling? Assistance with benefits? No matter what you’re experiencing, we’re here to connect you with resources and support systems to help. The Veterans Crisis Line is free and confidential. When you call, chat, or text, a qualified responder will listen and help. You decide how much information to share. Support doesn't end with your conversation. Our responders can connect you with the resources you need.

Find out if you can get VA health care as a Veteran

The following four categories of Veterans are not required to enroll but are urged to do so to permit better planning of health resources:

  1. Veterans with a service-connected (SC) disability rated at 50% or more.
  2. Veterans seeking care for a disability the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, but which VA has not yet rated, within 12 months of discharge.
  3. Veterans seeking care for a SC disability only or under a special treatment authority.
  4. Veterans seeking registry examinations (ionizing radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War/Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) depleted uranium, airborne hazards, and Open Burn Pit Registry).

Find out how to apply for VA health care benefits as a Veteran or service member. For other mental health services, contact a VA medical center for information on eligibility and treatment options.

Plan your trip to VA

In 1946, Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) was established by law to provide comfort and well-being to America’s Veterans. With our many retail stores, cafés and coffee shops across the country, we serve those who have served our country. Our Canteens are whole health spaces for Veterans to connect, relax, share and care for themselves in an environment that is their benefit. We are proud to Serve America’s Veterans and those who provide for their care.

VCS operates over 200 Patriot Stores in Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Centers nationwide. Many of our stores have been recently updated and expanded to provide our customers with a modern, clean and comfortable shopping experience. Our stores welcome our customers with wider aisles, wood-like floors, enhanced lighting and directional signage. PatriotStores have expanded hours of operation to provide service for customers on weekends at most locations.

The Patriot Cafe is the best place in the VA Medical Center to enjoy delicious, freshly prepared breakfast or lunch served hot or cold each weekday. Providing Veterans, their families, VA employees, volunteers and visitors a place to relax and enjoy a meal or take-out for their convenience. With a wide variety of food from traditional comfort food, specialized menu selections and a large assortment of healthy choices; there is something for everyone's taste buds.

Hospital Service Directory

To find out whether there is a van near you use the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Hospital Service Coordinator Directory to contact your nearest HSC for information or assistance. Please remember that the DAV Transportation Network is staffed by volunteers; therefore, it is unable to cover every community.

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