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Friday, September 7, 2012

#Veterans #Benefits: Service #Dogs for Veterans


[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 172 (Wednesday, September 5, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54368-54382]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-21784]

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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
38 CFR Part 17
RIN 2900-AN51

Service Dogs

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amends its regulations 
concerning veterans in need of service dogs. Under this final rule, VA 
will provide to veterans with visual, hearing, or mobility impairments 
benefits to support the use of a service dog as part of the management 
of such impairments. The benefits include assistance with veterinary 
care, travel benefits associated with obtaining and training a dog, and 
the provision, maintenance, and replacement of hardware required for 
the dog to perform the tasks necessary to assist such veterans.

DATES: Effective Date: This rule is effective October 5, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lynnette Nilan, RN, MN, Patient Care 
Services, (10P4), Veterans Health Administration, Department of 
Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420, (406) 
422-4476. (This is not a toll free number.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On June 16, 2011, VA published in the 
Federal Register (76 FR 35162) a proposed rule to amend VA regulations 
to broaden and clarify current benefits to veterans with guide dogs, 
and to establish new benefits related to service dogs. Pursuant to 38 
U.S.C. 1714(b) and (c), VA may provide to veterans enrolled under 38 
U.S.C. 1705 guide dogs trained for the aid of people who are blind and 
service dogs trained for the aid of the hearing impaired or persons 
with a spinal cord injury or dysfunction or other chronic impairment 
that substantially limits mobility. Under section 1714(d), VA is also 
authorized to provide certain travel expenses related to the provision 
of such dogs.
    In 1961, VA promulgated 38 CFR 17.118(a) (recodified as current 38 
CFR 17.154(a) in 1996) restating the statutory language, which at that 
time limited VA's authority to the provision of guide dogs for blind 
veterans. In 2001, Congress amended section 1714 to authorize VA to 
provide service dogs for veterans with other disabilities. See 
Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 
2001, Public Law 107-135, title II, Sec.  201. This rule implements 
that authority and establishes a single regulation relating to the 
provision of guide and service dog benefits by VA.
    Interested persons were invited to submit comments to the proposed 
rule on or before August 15, 2011, and we received 98 comments. All of 
the issues raised by the commenters that concerned at least one portion 
of the

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