July 20th, 2009
04:43 PM ET
5 years ago

Franken's first goal: Dogs for vets

Sen. Al Franken unveiled his first legislative goal Monday.
Sen. Al Franken unveiled his first legislative goal Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Newly-minted Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, unveiled his first legislative goal Monday - providing funding to train dogs to work with wounded veterans.

"Service dogs … can be of immense benefit to vets suffering from physical and emotional wounds," Franken wrote in a column published in the Star Tribune. "Yes, they provide companionship. But they can also detect changes in a person's breathing, perspiration or scent to anticipate and ward off an impending panic attack with some well-timed nuzzling. They are trained to let their masters know when it's time to take their medication and to wake them from terrifying nightmares."

Franken, who was recently sworn-in after a nine month battle over the election results, said it costs about $25,000 to train and place a dog and noted his bill would provide hundreds of them to veterans.

The Minnesota Democrat also said there is evidence to show that this kind of program could help reduce the suicide rate among veterans.

"Frankly, I believe it is enough simply to improve the lives of those of whom we asked so much," Franken wrote. "But this program isn't just the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do. This is win, win, win, win. I've been a senator for only a few days. But I've learned that it's better to listen than to talk, that you don't have to be a lawyer to be impressed by a tremendous jurist like Judge Sotomayor, and that I enjoy working with my Republican colleagues as much as I do with my fellow Democrats."


Filed under: Al Franken
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. disco stu

    Al's first order of business is to help our vets. But yet, there are partisen haters out there that will slam on him for doing just that. You know, the same people that sit at home & dont do jack squat to help out our nations returning soldiers.

    Keep on doing what your doing Al – All the vet's appreciate it.

    July 20, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. larrywi

    Dogs for Vets, this is what he coms up with for his first agenda! Geeze,. I'm a Veteran, and I love the fury pets as much as the next guy, but with all that we have coming out of the present administration, Dogs for Vets is what he comes up with! This gjuy will go along ways in the Senate, he may as well sit right next to Burris, and start packing when he does.

    July 20, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. kathy

    I am not a Dem..but I think Franken's idea is a wonderful and agree that dogs would be a tremendous help to our vets!!! Dogs are proven to improve the life's of people a hundred fold..and well worth taxpayers money!!!! I also agree that Franken should listen to those who elected him and not be taken in by the politics of Washington ....and the idiots on both sides of the table. This is his opportunity to show Americans that his being elected was not a joke!!!!

    July 20, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. doug

    He's kidding, right?

    July 20, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. John

    Al you must joking

    July 20, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. matt

    Hey Mobius,

    We all know republicans don't care about vets...and apparently anybody who does is an idiot. I hope a vet snaps and shoots you and your hateful family.

    July 20, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. MK

    Doug Neumann July 20th, 2009 12:56 pm ET

    "..Tremendous judge like Sotomeyer?" Hey Al, have you reviewed her cases and how many times she has been overturned?

    What a suck up.
    _____________________________________________________

    How many times has she been "overturned" smartass? Have you "reviewed" her cases? Thousands of them to review, or did you rely on GOP bigots to fill you in? She has not been overturned more than any other judge. Watch out there Dougie boy, your chauvenism is showing.

    July 20, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Kevin B

    I say we treat the vets like the Bush administration did; that is:

    -Filthy, decrepit hospitals
    -Long waits for benefits at the VA, just to be told that "you got nothing coming"
    -Sending them to war un-prepared and ill equiped in the first place.
    -Taking the thier re-enlistment bonuses if they are wouded in battle, so they end up owing the government upon discharge.
    -No one answering the suicide prevention hot lines.

    This is a good, sound approach to helping our wounded warriors and not amount of GOP nastiness from thier chicken hawks will negate that.

    Good suggestion senator Franken it won't hurt a thing !

    July 20, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Mark Cross Junction VA

    $25,000 to train a dog? Sounds like the $400 hammer or $600 toliet seat. What about SPCA's and volunteers. Didn't take him long to continue his democratic laughter and jokes from SNL.

    July 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. andy

    for any republican that rips on this, i guess you don't support the troops as much as you like to claim.

    July 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Elizabeth

    This is a fabulous idea! Anyone who lives with a dog knows how they enrich our lives. Service dogs as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for any of our veterans who can benefit from it is the right and smart thing to do. Thank you Senator Franken for thinking outside the box.

    July 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Anne from MN

    Paul Wellstone was a strong voice for vets and this is a respectful nod to his efforts as well as a good beginning for Franken – I hope you didn't expect him to arrive in D.C. and stop the wars that necessitate aid to our returning troops.

    July 20, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Kimberly

    he is right, they are important, they need them, and they are HUGE in therapy. I hope this passes

    July 20, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. George L

    If I were Republican, I'd read some comments and say that those people are against the wellbeing of our men and women who have served this country so well and are now in need of help. Thankfully I am not of that ilk and can see this is a great idea which will be worth every penny and the nay sayers are just not getting it.

    July 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Lucille

    I agree that this is a great idea. The reasoning behind it is sound and I am all for it. Some of you need to cut the politics and help make it better for our injured service men. I suppose, if Bush or Cheney had suggested it, you would have loved it.

    July 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Lori reminds the GOP that Obama's approval ratings are STILL SIGNIFICANTLY higher than theirs in ALL areas! Learn how to read polls!

    Wow, I thought the Republicans were patriotic and the rest of us weren't. Why are they complaining now? Good job, Franken.

    July 20, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Lynne

    As someone who has worked with service dogs this is truly commendable. I've seen dogs change peoples' lives, from autistic children, to blind individuals, paraplegics. It's amazing what one canine can do for someone's morale and their sense of independence. I applaud Sen Franken for having the wherewithall to address this for our vets.

    July 20, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Bijaya

    I'm sorry.....but what is wrong with thinking about and trying to help the veterans of this country? I didn't know trying to help those who risk their lives to protect us was idiocy.

    July 20, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Zach - Seattle

    I think this is a very admirable project and a smart move by Franken. By promoting legislation that is seen as positive on both sides of the aisle, he's setting himself up as someone who can cross party lines and get things done.

    Aside from the political strategy, however; this is a very important issue that really does need to be addressed. The welfare of our veterans is appalling, and anything we can do to improve that should be a huge priority for any senator.

    A big kudos to Al Franken.

    July 20, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Lee

    Whatever a disabled vet needs, Americans should be happy to provide. We must not forget that they did our fighting for most of us. Most Americans sat on their keesters and watched TV during the war in Iraq. That includes Pres. Bush's daughters too (they certainly don' t take after their heroic grandfather.)

    There was no draft, which Americans would have rejected. Most of us prefer not to fight – especially the female voters who voted for George W. Bush twice. So, we extended their terms and flew them across the sea to fight a nasty, difficult war.

    Whatever they need is fine with me. Provide it and raise our taxes by the amount of the bill, whatever it is. After all, no one shot at us, did they?

    July 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Erin

    Awesome....i do a fundraising walk every year with my dogs for an organization called "Texas Hearing and Service Dogs". they rescue dogs from shelters around Austin and train them to be full-time companions and aides to disabled citizens and veterans around central Texas. Two lives are saved–the dog's, and the citizen's.

    Good work Sen. Franken. i hope the program will use shelter dogs that have the capabilities to perform those functions whenever possible, and without a doubt, this will help our returning soldiers immensely.

    July 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Bill of Florida

    What's wrong with helping veterans? They deserve the best we can give them, and I think that Al Franken has done something very positive. I give him a gold star for his first efforts.

    July 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. lrnarug

    It's obvious from your comments none of you are veterans. We are an American Legion family, my husband served in both the Army (4 yrs) and Naval Air during Nam. The Post he is a member of in central Arkansas works to make the lives of veteran's better who will be in the VA Hospital the rest of their lives or in homes with assisted living. Finally someone else cares for veterans, except other veterans. The dog program will benefit many thousands of disabled veterans, shame on anyone who cares so little about them.

    July 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Jim

    The people of MN are demanding dog training for vets.

    July 20, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. Lauren

    Mr. Franken, can we please pass health care reform first so all Americans can have health insurance?

    July 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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