WUOMFM

Legislation could help protect veterans with service dogs from discrimination

May 6, 2015

Cadence is a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program.
Credit user Ash Carter / Flickr

There's new legislation at the state Capitol that would help protect veterans with service dogs from discrimination.

State Senator David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights, served in Iraq and he is sponsoring the bills.

A number of veterans come home with what Sen. Knezek calls, “invisible wounds,” such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Many of them find solace and comfort in a service animal.

They make use of the animal in their everyday lives, taking them to the store, to restaurants, just like people with more apparent physical disabilities do.

Knezek says the problem comes when other people see a veteran, healthy by all outward appearances, and question whether their need for the service animal is legitimate.

With this legislation, Knezek will seek to extend to veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or other service-connected disabilities, the same protections that are afforded to those with hearing or visual impairments.

Sen. Knezek tried to pass this measure last year when he was in the state House, but it failed to make it out of committee.

This time he’s seeking assistance from both the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee and the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee in his attempt to extend these protections to veterans and to bring Michigan into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This is a great opportunity for us to show that we should not make veterans’ issues partisan in our state,” Knezek said, feeling optimistic about this year’s push.