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. Tony

    I've been a puppy raiser of future leader dogs and the difference these animals can make is indescribable...literally.
    So many people only see a pet, but service dogs are independence. Service dogs are self-sufficiency. Service dogs save lives. When the towers fell, every service dog got his owner out!
    For those that will criticize this proposal only because Sen. Al Franken sponsored it, I ask, "are scoring political points really worth denying a disabled veteran any chance at independence and self-respect?"

    July 20, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. BP

    Um, Doug? Judge Sotomayor was overturned fewer times than Judge Alito; what does that say about him?

    Thank you Al Franken, for keeping our troops' needs in the forefront. With the death of five MN servicement this WEEK overseas, the ones who do make it home need all the help and support they can get.

    July 20, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Hot Chick

    Thanks God that this Canadian voted for him in my dreams....We need reality and humour....big things and small things too.

    July 20, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Tim

    Mobius must be against helping the men and women who serve in the armed services. Obviously some of these replies show that some of you only read the headline. Must be too taxing for you to read the actual story.

    July 20, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Mike

    25000 to train and place a dog what happened to going to the paound and getting one for free. Every mutt I've owned was a great dog with free training from me.

    Gov't stupidity with my money.

    Al why don't you use your salry to fund the program.

    July 20, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Sherrill Durbin

    The program would be great, but PLEASE have people assigned to check on the dog's well-being and environment for the first year. Also, make sure the veteran does not have a history of being abusive. There have been some horrendous news stories of a few veterans returning and being very abusive to animals. It's not common, but happens enough that precautions need to be in place.

    July 20, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Democrati Ignorati

    Think of it this way...Franken has only been in the Senate for two weeks (give or take) and is already sponsoring legislation. Obama sponsored no bills while he was a Senator.

    July 20, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Duck Fallas

    Why use dogs? Can't we train a neo-con to do the same thing?

    Palin-Bachmann 2012

    July 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Bob in Pa

    I would rather back this than UHC thats for sure.

    July 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Res ipsa loquitur

    Hey Doug, have YOU reviewed Sotomayor's cases and her reversal rate?

    Out of her 232 majority opinions she has written in 11 years on the Second Circuit, she has been reversed...wait for it...three times. Yes, three.

    See, this is where not knowing the facts gets you into trouble...

    July 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Carole

    Great idea, Senator Franken! Yes to all you Rethugs on here, Senator Franken.

    Senator Franken is a Harvard Grad I believe. Senator Franken has more intelligence than more than likely 80% of the Senate. After watching the Sotomayor hearings, I now know why Obama HAD to run for President. I could not believe how racist the Republican was until the hearings.

    Good luck Senator Franken!!!!!

    July 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. mjm

    Wait until PETA hear's about this.

    Still, it's a good idea. I thought they were already doing this.

    July 20, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Pat

    How can you get along with something that is constantly stabbing you in the back? If Anne Colter (however you spell her name) or Rush was a Senator and made that comment, it would be just as laughable as either Frankin or Michael Moore making the statement.

    In regards of training dogs for Vets – sounds like a good idea

    July 20, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  14. Sue

    I am sure that all of you who are chastising Franken for this bill are the ones who ride around with your "Support Our Troops" on your cars. Isn't it amazing when someone who wants to support our troops initiates legislation (rather than having them electrocuted by the shoddy workmanship of the Halliburton subsidiary) that you protest. Please go back under your rocks and wait for a few more years to come out. Your touch with reality will not be altered.

    July 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. jim

    It is priceless if it prevents one combat vet from committing suicide. The data shows it is very helpful, Mobius.

    July 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  16. hjhaney

    She has been overturned less than anyone else who's cases came up for review on the supreme court.

    July 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. MK

    I so agree with Sen. Franken. Dogs can be wonderful companions for people. I think of it as a win win, vets help train dogs and dogs help vets heal. What a wonderfully refreshing idea.

    July 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Ashley Kayser

    C'mon folks..... shouldn't the news caption read "Wounded Veterans healthcare is Al Frankens first order of business"? A reminder....he's the comedian not you.

    July 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. Alice Anderson

    Dear Senator Franken ( boy that sounds good to say!) Thank you for making service dogs your first priority. As an avid dog lover, I know how much good a dog can do anyone. A trained dog that will help is an added bonus! Our veterans deserve anything we can possibly do. This will benefit both dogs and the veterans. I will tell Senator Levin from Michigan to support you in this. Good Luck and even though I live in Michigan and can't vote for you, I am glad you won. Alice Anderson, Ludington, Michigan

    July 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  20. tim, minnesota

    Mr. Franken,

    Try listening to the Constitution, the only thing you sware an oath to. I support our troups, but here we go again another idea turned into a program without limits or cost consideration. Our federal government is broke, flat broke, borrowing trillions of our future genreations income.

    Change from the past is STOP expanding government and STOP spending. Hello Washington are the lights on?

    July 20, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Scoobydob

    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.

    The majority of the justices on the Supreme Court had more cases overturned than Judge Sotomeyer. You need to do more research before trotting out such an ignorant remark.

    July 20, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. Steve (the real one)

    I am, as most of you know a conservative. This is a good non-partisan start, where most can get on board. This is a worth while program that works! Same thing happened in a major prison and the inmates in involved in the program had a purpose again and the violence dropped! The only ones who will be against this are those who never served and don't understand!

    July 20, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. aj

    There is no reason to suppose that Al Franken will not have a history in the Senate that anyone would be proud of. It seems that while defeating an incumbent he had a tougher fight for his Senate seat than almost any other Senator there, which is deserving of my respect. His next trip to the Polls will tell if he has impressed his new constituents during his term. His proposal demonstrates his empathy for the troops and we will know more about his character and judgement with time. Sotomayer isn't perfect, but she has demonstrated judicial patience with her GOP inquisitors. Perhaps Franken admires this, as we all should.

    July 20, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. Party of No, just can't help themselves

    Wow, so telling of the rethuglicans on this blog attacking Sen. Franken, who is trying to help our servicemen and women.

    Who supports the troops, now?

    July 20, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. Lucy

    This is who we've needed for a long time. Someone who is thinking straight about what the Veterans needs are. Start with the dogs, you can't go wrong.

    July 20, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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