Blind Vets Warn Against VA Funding Guide Dogs
Mar 05, 2013
by Bryant Jordan
The Blind Veterans Association is warning lawmakers against passing legislation – already sidetracked at least twice – to have the Department of Veterans Affairs cover costs of getting guide dogs for blind vets.
BVA officials say that lawmakers have been pressed for three years to provide millions of dollars annually to ensure that blind veterans who want a dog – whose costs have been put at $35,000 – can afford one.
However, the dogs have been paid for by non-profit organization like the The Seeing Eye in New Jersey since the 1960s. BVA officials fear that requiring the VA to pay for a dog will open up the entire system to abuse and fraud.
“For 67 years, BVA has worked with both VA and the original guide dog training programs to ensure that any blinded veteran who wishes to have a guide dog can obtain one for free,” Sam Huhn, national president of the BVA, told a joint meeting of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs committees recently. “For decades, hundreds of blinded veterans have received guide dogs from a handful of well-known programs that never charged a veteran to receive a guide dog.”
Huhn said Congress needs to be wary of funding an unnecessary guide-dog program, “for the protection of disabled veterans, the strong potential risk of fraud, misleading advertising, and VA liability for large future expenditures.”
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Why would someone tell Congress they don't want the money? Simple. It already works the way it is.