America's four-legged veterans may soon get a guarantee of medical care when they return home.
Buried deep within the National Defense Authorization Act is an amendment that the ASPCA says "provides significant steps" for the protection of retired military dogs by streamlining the adoption process and authorizing a system of veterinary care for retired animals without cost to taxpayers.
The bill now awaits President Obama's signature.
“Military dogs are true heroes—they play a critical role in our nation’s defense,” said Nancy Perry, a top lobbyist for the ASPCA. “These amazing dogs have been loyal to us in extreme circumstances and deserve to be properly cared for and adopted into good homes after such unwavering service to their country.
Military dogs have long been on the frontlines of combat, saving human lives most recently  in Iraq and Afghanistan by sniffing out incendiery devices, among other life-threatening duties.
Their courage has been chronicled in news stories and photographs like the one posted above, in books and websites, like the U.S. War Dog Association.
Foreign Policy magazine reporter Rebecca Frankel's feature "War Dog of the Week." recognizes the contributions of military dogs serving in Afghanistan. This holiday week, Frankel features handler SSG Donald Miller who posed for this postcard with his Patrol Explosive Detector Dog, Ody, while on duty in Afghanistan.
It's dogs like Ody that may benefit from the new law, giving handlers and others a quicker route to adoption when the dog's service career is over and helping cover their vet bills for war injuries both physical and psychological.