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."
Great idea. I have to wonder if the negative commenters even care if our vets commit suicide.
Sounds like a great idea to me. Our vets need a lot of help and don't forget we made a promise to those that serve and we need to keep it.
Wake Up America! Do you not understand what this will cost! This is being shoved down our throats! Give the people a chance to decide if this is the right thing to do.
Really? Al Franken wants to do something for the vets? Wow, I'm pleasantly surprised. I didn't think he liked the military. I'm all for this initiative. Anything that will help our veterans gets kudos from me. Way to go, Al!
Right on, Senator Franken! I can't think of a more loving tribute to our soldiers than a companion that will love AND protect... and absolute loyal companion. That's more than we can say for our own country and the way it has treated our physically and emotionally wounded soldiers.
Mobius, you've never known the love of a dog, have you? What a sad person you are.
Franken is an idiot. I'm beginning to think Minnesota is populated by idiots - first Jesse Ventura and now Franken. They make California look like the place where intelligent people live.
I think I'm getting a panic attack right now. Here we are, a nation capable of putting a man in the moon, but manage to elect a clown worried about an issue way down in the totem pole of priorities,
Mobius July 20th, 2009 12:55 pm ET
THIS is what we waited for all these months to get this brilliant political mind in the US Senate? I guess that *is* change, but……
I'm amazed that our country is still functional with the new brand of nonstop idiocy which has gripped our Government since January….and of course, except for the brand name, it's not really any change at all.
i can just feel the contempt & hate oozing from any neocon with regard to senator franken's proposal.
mobius and his chums were probably content with the last administration's policies toward war vets – send em' on tour after tour; unilaterally engage in war so us servicemembers bear the brunt of the losses; allow va hospital to enter a state of disrepair; provide them with inadequate armor and equipment.
where is the compassion that conservatives swear they possess? some of these people need a friend & are we all not in agreement that dogs are man's best friend?
Kudos to Sen. Franken. This is a worthwhile cause and Franken is doing his job adequately.
I'm all for helping our service men and women, and I'm a firm believer in the power of animals to help provide service to those in need.
But, now is not the time to spend $25,000 per dog. The time for that is when everything else is done and paid off.
It appears that Franken has gotten his priorities mixed up.
Support the men and women in uniform is not just words and flag-waving and pride when some enemy target is destroyed. Supporting the troops is not turning your back on them when they return from war, especially if they come back injured whether it's physically or emotionally.
I am sorry, but everytime Al Franken uses the word "Frankly" I cannot help but snicker the same way a little kid does when someone says the word "duty"...
I think it is a good program. I know several people with service dogs, and they are an amazing and many times life-saving infiluence in their lives. I would agree that our veterans deserve this benefit just like any blind of handicapped person.
This may seem a little silly at the outset but it really is a worthy program for vets with post traumatic stress syndrome. There was a Wall Street Journal article that profiled a vet and his service dog and what the dog did for him was simply amazing. I'm glad Sen. Franken is bringing attention, and hopefully added dollars, to this worthy cause.
This man is doing just what President Obama campaigned on. Making promises and delivering. You go guy, keep on trucking.
I think he meant vets for dogs – a health care thing. He just got confused. Although he's a high functioning liberal he's still severely impaired when it comes to understanding things that are real.
I have an epileptic family member with a service dog. She alerts them and my family when it is time to take seizure medication.
Most of us who know, an epileptic seizure can strike at any time and without warning. Sadie has saved the life of my relative on a number of occasions. She instinctively knows and has been trained for such a thing.
I think it's a great idea, it improves on the quality of life for those suffering from such afflictions and not that cost prohibitive.
While it may have not been my first choice for a bill, I think it's a great move since Sen. Franken spent so much time in Iraq on USO tours and we have literally let our returned injured men and women in uniform slip through the cracks.
Mobius – I'm glad that you hold the service of our veteran's with such high esteem. Why do you think so many veteran's try to bring dogs back with them that have meant so much to them while they are protecting your freedom to speak so feeling.
You obviously could use some of the unconditional love that a dog gives.
What is wrong with you people? Do vets not deserve this? Of course they do, you go lay your life on the line and come back disfigured and see if you criticize the idea then. Try to think about more than your selfish self.
Fianally! And it took a former comedian to bring some common sense to government. And to all you people who think his service dog idea is a waste of money...you better pray that you or your relatives don't need one some day
Hey, this can a good thing. We need to take care of our servicemen and women in every way that we can. I have a relative who is still suffering emotionally after being hit in the first Gulf War. He has tried so hard to return to a 'normal' life but still has PTSD sabotaging whatever progress he makes.
Al Franken is going to be an amazing public servant, mark my words. Sounds like he's off to a terrific start, and I'd like to see you, Mobius, Doug Neumann, or Roger, do any better! Give him a chance, please.
Thought this guy would be a total joke (no pun intended) but this is a real good idea and I am all for it.
Off to a good start in proving me wrong Senator – way to go in helping out our armed forces in an area that makes a whole lot of sense
It may be a long shot, but it may not be a bad at idea after all. I may add that our veterans should get as much help as possible-mustly the injured ones.
Anything that helps to benefit our wounded soldiers is an obligation we have to them as a nation. This sounds like a wonderful initiative, and my hat is off to any legislator who places the needs of our troops first. We as a nation have become numb to what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan – and we cannot. The death of Michael Jackson becomes a huge media event, but the death of a soldier receives a short-lived headline. It is sad, indeed. Thank you, Senator Franken, for reminding us of our priories. Stay the course.
I don't know why people think this is a stupid idea. It's a brilliant idea! There have been plenty of studies to prove that animal companionship helps heal a wounded person (both mentally and physically) much faster than just therapy and medical attention. We ask so much from the men and women in the armed forces. We should do all we can to help them. No "ifs", "ands" or "buts". Period. Kudos, Mr. Franken.