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. j

    Franken in 2016!!!

    July 20, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. John M in NoHo, CA

    Imagine you're a vet who lost his eyes by an IED, coming back to a pitch black world. Or one with brain seizures due to cranial injury and needs an intuitive partner who knows when they're going to happen... OK. Now continue your Franken-bashing.

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. George

    You got to love the GOP'ers here.

    Every good thing we do for the troops will be met with hatred and insults.

    If we treat our vets well enough soon it will be conservatives that spit on them in airports as they come home.

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Son of Strom

    Doug Neumann: Glad you didn't let a little something like the facts stand in your way. Sotomeyor has had 3 of her 6 cases overturned by the Supreme Court. The average over the last 10 years has been to overturn 75% of all cases. The Supreme Court does not accept cases unless it appears they may want to overturn the decision, so a 50% record is quite good.
    Anyone who can find fault with Senator Franken's bill is showing themselves to be heartless and unpatriotic towards the thousands of soldiers who have returned from George Bush's war with serious mental and physical scars.

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Clyde Stanley

    He is absolutely correct. I have seen the value of service dogs firsthand. It's refreshing to see a senator stand up for those with special needs instead of special people with connections.

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Veronica McNamara

    Three cheers for Al Franken. A quote fromHenry Beston:

    For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not bretheren, they are not underlings, they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    This is an excellent idea Sen. Franken. I wonder why no one else in Congress has asked to pass this legislation. This puts true meaing to the phrase "man's best friend."

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Minnesotan

    Dear Mr. Franken: You can kill two birds with one stone by creating more dog training programs in prisons. This program has proven itself to be an excellent rehabilitation opportunity for prisoners, with only a minimal investment. And the obvious benefits of providing companion animals to veterans is brilliant. Bravo, Sir! Keep up the good work!

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. great program

    I think this is actually a great step in Franken's political career. This method of dog training for Veterans has worked before. There are several studies on this program and several veterans who have participated in this program have expressed how amazing the dogs have been for their recovery and their PTSD.

    There is a program with prisons, where inmates learn to work with dogs and train them to help people with disabilities. This program has proven to be a great rehabilitation program for both the inmates and the individuals who receive the trained dogs. Some of these individuals have been US veterans.

    I think that we should take the example of these programs among others, to make a national program to really help our veterans who have done so much to protect our freedoms, freedoms that allow us to discuss our opinion on this blog.

    And for those who find that this is a joke. Look into the programs already in effect for guide dogs and veterans, before making a negative post.

    July 20, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Tania

    Something for veterans' benefit - "idiocy"?! Says a lot about you, Mobius.

    July 20, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. Roger

    Mobius......you have a better place to start for a junior senator? Placing dogs with Vets and improving their lives seems like a good place to start in my opinion....douchebag

    July 20, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. Anne Settanni

    I applaud Senator Frankin's efforts. Research bears out what he hopes to achieve. Animals help humans heal and can save the lives of soldiers overwhelmed with the trauma of war.

    July 20, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. Bill, Bloominton IL

    If Franken has to be told where the path is, I am sure glad he is in the senate and starting small is not a good idea when our country is in shambles.

    July 20, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. cole stevens

    to everyone mocking this:

    you've obviously never had an animal. this will help these people so much

    July 20, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Fred Evil

    Well spoken. It's nice to see someone doing some good for once.

    Unless you're packing sour grapes like Mobius and Dougie here.

    July 20, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. marge

    Franken is an embarrassment to the State of Minnesota and the people here who are not worshippers of Scumbama. He will only serve one term then he'll be able to go back to SNL again and hopefully stay there where he belongs because no one watches that show anymore either.

    At least we all now are aware of where his priorities are.....

    July 20, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Jennifer

    I'm not sure how anyone can consider providing assistance to soldiers who's lives have been changed forever (on your behalf) as a joke. Clearly, you don't have any wounded service people in your family or group of friends. Our men and women who have been injurded/disabled deserve every opportunity to regain as much "normal life" as possible. Service dogs help to do this in many, many ways.

    I think its a great idea.

    July 20, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Edward lawler

    This guy has to be an improvement over the wrestler that the Minniehaha's elected governor. What is wrong with the people up there that managed to elect a real senator like Hubert Humphrey.

    July 20, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. Kelly

    Al Franken can write 1 piece of legislation in less than 1 month on the job. Obama couldn't do that in 2 years.

    July 20, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    You go Al Franken!!!

    Good for you!!!

    July 20, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. T'SAH from Virginia

    Hmm, sounds good to me.... but what about HEALTH CARE first then DOGS later!!

    July 20, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Margo Kobs

    Senator Franken is absolutely correct on this initiative. These dogs will help our wounded vets coming home tremendously. We need to get the word out to the public for donations to help train these dogs and be able to support them in this small way when every day they have the consequences of living with their war wounds to help defend us. I think if the public knew how much help these animals can be to our wounded soldiers – we just need the news, like CNN to help promote the soldiers who have them and get the publicity on TV and the internet.
    Thank you,

    July 20, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. Lowell

    Service dogs are absolutely essential for some people to maintain an independent life. These animals not only provide support but they also provide love and companionship. This is also an area that is sorely underfunded and underutilized. Given all the nonsense that comes out of Washington, this is one topic that is definitely NOT nonsense.

    We've got huge problems with the economy (which hopefully is now turning around), Iraq (thanks to Bush's idiocy), Afghanistan (again, thanks to Bush), North Korea - it's good to see that there are people still paying attention to the smaller problems and trying to find ways to fix them.

    Way to go, Al.

    July 20, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. TangledThorns

    I love dogs so I'm afraid they can be hurt or neglected by a soldier with PTSD. There has to be an alternative.

    July 20, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Kevin in Ohio

    This is so blatantly patronizing, it is pathetic. Left-wingers say they "support the troops", but this is evidence that they merely pay lip-service to their needs. These worthy vets need a whole lot more than a dog...... they need support for the cause they fight for.

    July 20, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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