Saturday, May 2, 2015

VA Advisory Committee to Discuss Service Dogs on May 19

On May 19 and 20, the Federal Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special-Disabilities Programs will hold meetings at the VA Central Office, 810 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20420.  Meetings will begin at 8:30 a.m. and adjourn at 4:30 p.m. on May 19 and at 12 noon on May 20.  The meeting is open to the public but members of the public will not be given time to comment. 

On May 19, the Committee will receive briefings on, among other things, service dogs.  It is not indicated whether this will include any update on the status of the VA's proposed revisions to its service animal policies, discussed here in a blog last November. Under 38 U.S.C. 543, the Committee is to advise the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on prosthetics and special-disabilities programs administered by the VA, including providing advice on the adequacy of funding for special-disabilities programs. The Charter of the Committee, which is posted on the VA's website, indicates that the Committee's advice may concern research on programs that deal with "spinal cord injury, blindness or vision impairment, loss of or loss of use of extremities, deafness or hearing impairment, or other serious incapacities in terms of daily life functions."  The latter phrase would cover mental health disabilities, including PTSD, so any discussion of service dogs should not be restricted to service dogs for physical disabilities. 

Any member of the public wishing to attend should contact Larry N. Long, Designated Federal Officer, at 202-461-7354.  He can also be emailed at Photo ID will have to be presented at the Guard's Desk of the building. 

Veterans and others concerned with the VA's service animal policies--at least those living in the DC area--should consider attending.  Although they presumably won't be allowed to speak, if Mr. Long receives enough calls from veterans asking about what service dog issues will be discussed, the Committee might allocate more time to those issues.

The VA's announcement is included in the Federal Register for May 4. Department of Veterans Affairs: Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special-Disabilities Programs; Notice of Meeting, 80 Fed. Reg. 25362 (May 4, 2015)