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

Franken's first goal: Dogs for vets

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.franken0713.gi.jpg caption="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. Open Your 3rd Eye

    All of you people who have spread this suffocating negativity throughout our country since Barack was elected will get yours indeed.

    I promise, you will reap what you sow.

    Your greed, selfishness, and self-centeredness will haunt you for life...

    And your judgement will prove these words in death.

    Mark 10:25

    "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Harrison

    Another Democratic spending program. Didn't take him long.

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |

    Why don't we stop sending them to foriegn lands in UN-CONSTITUTIONAL wars!

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

    I hope some of the dogs he gets are American Pit Bulls.... not a play on words or anything.. they are a great dog.

    July 20, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Jason B.

    Thus far I've been impressed with Sen. Franken. He seems to be very well spoken, educated about what's going on, and very capable. Of course he's too new to really judge yet, but he seems alright so far.

    I really like this bill he's come up with too. It's got my support!

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

    Hundreds of them, so 100 dogs cost = 2 MILLION 500 THOUSAND, such a waste. I support the veterans, but dogs??

    July 20, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. not a Jackson or a Palin fan

    Speaking of dogs, where is the obligatory Sarah Palin commentary?

    July 20, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. Carmen, Miami FL

    People are already whining about him being a comedian, but what's funny about what he's doing? Seems sensible to me. Trained dogs help, ask the soldiers who've already come into contact with them.

    BTW, Doug Neumann, how does the rate at which Sotomayor was overturned compare to the rate other justices were overturned? And can you inform us why and exactly how bad her decisions were? People love to talk when they have no idea what they're talking about.

    July 20, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. K

    This is not as stupid as people think. It's a low-cost, effective way to prevent suicide and increase the well-being of veterans, especially disabled ones. Science says that pets make people more content, and trained dogs are helpful for disabled people. Thank you for finding evidence-based solutions, Senator Franken. We Minnesotans appreciate it.

    July 20, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. lo

    "I'm amazed that our country is still functional with the new brand of nonstop idiocy which has gripped our Government"

    Shame on you. You are pathetic. Service dogs can completely change the lives of emotionally scarred soldiers coming back from war with PTSD. I watched a documentary on television about these programs, and it was very moving to watch how these animals impacted their lives. This is not simply a "companion" to provide empathy and love, these people literally cannot function without them. They truly couldn't live without them.

    This is an excellent start to his Senate career.

    July 20, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. Ted

    Wow. A senator that is bringing real human needs to the table rather than working for lobbyists. Franken is a breath of fresh air in the staleness of Washington DC.

    July 20, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. G Smith

    BTW having worked with Vets I know personally we owe them a huge debt. If you saw the medical costs, wait time and quality of the VA hospitals, you would understand that this is a relatively inexpensive means of assisting people who have put so much on the line for our country. Novel? Yes. Foolhardy? Hardly....Just a creative mind trying to help people in need on a limited budget.

    July 20, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. SlowGun

    @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……


    How could someone complain about this. When it turned out the WMD didn't exist, all we heard from the Republicans was "Support the troops", "Support the troops". Well here is a great way to support our troops. As to your question as to "waiting months for this"...I don't know why the troops had to wait. Why didn't a republican who still thinks the war was a great thing come up with this years ago?...someone like John McCain for instance?
    Why it took

    July 20, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Paul in Virginia

    Service dogs work and our wounded veterans deserve all the help they can get. Good job Sen. Franken.

    July 20, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Chipster

    Doug Neumann,

    Judge Sotomayor's name is even spelled for you in the article and still you couldn't get it right? Franken is extremely well educated and informed. Anyone who watched the hearings on C-SPAN had to be impressed with his knowledge of the subject matter. You'd never know it from the "entertainment-news" of course because all they report is fluff and sensation. His sense of humor will serve him well in the Senate too.

    July 20, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. johnnie

    Why always does it have to be so comical ,about everything Al Franken ttalks about.?This is a great service to the (Wounded) Vets, and we should , i mean (those) who have any (Epathy) should take a look in the (Mirror), and be thankful that , if we have our (Health) our days are (Blessed). The (WAR VETS) have gone thru a terrible (WAR) and AL Franken , has a great (Goal) for legislation for (Our Vets). To provide them with (comfort ) and (Hope). Dogs that are (Trained ) to work with (Wounded Vets) is a (Good Service) Al Franken is not a (Joke) he is very bright and will be a force in the (Senate).. Stop the clowing (Fox False News Crowd) with (stupid ) remarks.....

    July 20, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Support them

    I think it's a wonderful first step.

    For those that criticize "the left," at least his actions are showing what all the "red, white and blue, support our troops" on the right are saying...the difference is, he is backing it up with action, not just waving flags!!

    That IS the kind of change we need in our legislators!

    July 20, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Brian

    I am not sure a service dog can help the vet actually see a Dr quicker because that sounds a bit more important to me. The lines in the Portland VA Hospital can reach 8 hrs before these hero's see a Dr.

    How about finding some funding for the Hospitals to treat these vets?

    July 20, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Susan, Macedon New York

    I think it's great that at least one politician is concerned about the welfare of our veterans. W had no trouble sending them all to Iraq, but while they were gone he did his best to nibble away at their benefits.
    What kind of patriotism is that? And the conditions at Walter Reed hospital where those fighting men and women who are wounded were consigned to – Deporable and indefensible!

    It's also nice to hear of a politician who prefers to listen to his constituents instead of the sound of his own voice!

    It took awhile, but I'm glad Al finally made it to the senate!

    July 20, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Boston Irish

    I think it's a great idea. I don't know about #1 priority, but I'd put it in the top 5. At least he's thinking about doing good for someone who really counts and not making some pork his #1 priority. Way to go Al!!

    July 20, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Macushla

    Maybe service dogs aren't important to you but they mean so much to the vets who need them. This should be a top priority to say thank you to those who have fought and been woundered. Kudos to Franken - at least he has his priorities right compared to some of you who view this as a joke.

    July 20, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Ernie in LA

    I never though that I would be impressed with this guy, but I think the Service Dog idea is great. The Government sometimes does not take care of the military men and women as they should so let the dogs have a try. Although there are a lot of more important issues that need attention, I think this is great. Maybe the dogs can help us with Health Care.

    July 20, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. John C. Laipple

    Hope y'all realize what a breath of fresh air, new perspective & set of priorities can do as we move forward.
    Al, you simply rock. Don't change a thing. Eureka!

    July 20, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Tadpole

    Mobius and company are a buch of frakken chickenhawks, neoconservative to the core, they don't give a pickle about are troops or their needs and yet I bet each one of them proudly sports a US flag next to a Sunocco sticker on their SUV!

    Al's the man and we need 99 more just like him!

    July 20, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. vetsupporter

    How is this a joke? This is a very legitimate program. They are already doing similar things at Walter Reed.

    I love how republican are "for the troops" when they are getting blown away while killing for their corporate agenda, but heaven forbid they give a you know what about them when they come home.

    July 20, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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