Governor DeSantis backs treatment options for veterans

Photo by Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash

A series of alternative treatment options could soon be available to U.S. military veterans with traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder, under a law signed Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The measure (HB 501), which drew unanimous support from the House and Senate during this year’s legislative session, will allow the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs to contract with a state university or Florida College System institution to provide the following alternative treatment options: accelerated resolution therapy; equine therapy; hyperbaric oxygen therapy; music therapy; and service animal training therapy.

DeSantis, who served in the Navy, said he’s long supported alternative-treatment concepts, such as training dogs to work with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

DeSantis, who held a bill-signing ceremony at the University of South Florida Office of Veteran Success, said he pushed for alternative treatments while serving in Congress.

“The people that would go in the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs), literally it would be they would get counseling and they would get prescription medication,” DeSantis said. “So, we had veterans that commit suicide on the back end of that. I spoke with family members, and they really believed that was not the proper treatment.”

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Mel Ponder, R-Destin, was pushed by Danny Burgess, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs who is a former legislator and serves as a captain and judge advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve.