President Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act – this means the Military Working Dog Retirement Act can now be enforced, guaranteeing that every single military dog comes back home once retired or decommissioned.
Have you ever wondered what happens to all those dogs who are injured overseas or have completed their time serving in the military? Sadly, protocol called for these dogs to simply be left behind in the county that they are serving, hopefully to be adopted by someone who can help them.Furthermore, the soldiers who fought alongside these dogs and who wanted to adopt them had to pay for all the costs out of their own pocket and were often faced with a giant wall of paperwork to go through.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case. A few months ago, we reported on a bill that was recently introduced to ensure dogs came back after their service overseas. That bill, called Military Working Dog Retirement Act, has become a reality! Late last year, President Obama signed a massive defense bill, and inside that bill was a provision that allowed for decommissioned or injured military dogs to return back to American soil.
While overseas, these dogs are side by side soldiers who are in the heart of combat and they also serve as bomb-sniffers to make sure the road is clear for their comrades. The reason why many of these dogs would be left behind after they’ve completed their service is because they would be considered civilians of that country once they have retired, which means they no longer qualify to travel home on military vehicles. This means transporting them home would be extremely difficult.
Last year in June, the American Humane Association privately funded the transportation of 21 retired military dogs to reunite them with their former human handlers. Then, the AHA held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to urge politicians to create a bill to bring back their military dogs rather than leave them in the country where they served. The response was amazing: inside the National Defense Authorization Act, the Military Working Dog Retirement Act was born and now, thanks to many groups coming together to fight for what it right, this bill is a reality!
I can think of no one better to help human veterans cope with everyday life than with the four-legged comrade that ran side-by-side with them in dangerous territories. This act will not only benefit the military dog, which can retire in peace knowing their human handler will always be with them, as well as the human veteran, who can always have a paw to hold to overcome wartime trauma and adjust to civilian life.