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. tim

    I can't believe people make fun of a bill that will help disabled veterans.

    July 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Caryn, Bloomfield, CT

    Really? You are going to give Sen. Franken grief because he cares about our AMERICAN vets! There are so many things that we can and should be doing for our American vets after asking them to do so much for us; service dogs is just a minor step. Obviously, most of the people on these blogs just like to gripe instead of giving someone credos for listening to what needs to be done.

    July 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Democrat

    DOGS for veterans? What up w/this guy. Fighting a battle for months to know who won the senator seat and when the chips are all counted this is what you get from him. Is he not concerned about jobs lost, home lost, economic problems, etc. Why are these people really elected? His first legislative goal? He once were a comedian; but I believe the joke is on the constitutents of Minnesota :). This guy is a joker. Suicide....it will take more than just the companionship of a dog. Let's be real. No offense to the veterans but I do believe family would be valuable when assistance is needed to take medication, and comforting from relative or friend during a nightmare would be sufficient. Wouldn't you think? Let's not waste monies; when the GOP seems to think the deficit is above what it should or/and tax taxpayers for another program that serve no purpose. Can Al Franken prove that this program is liable and workers? This job he has now is not for laughs or jokes; it's series business. And let's not hate on Judge Sotomayor. She not only talk the talk but she definitely walk the walk.

    July 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Mark Johnson

    What an idiot! The people of Minnestota deserve what they get.

    July 20, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Hugo

    There may be some small hope for Franke, he may be figuring it out since he barely won his election.

    July 20, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. tom

    Had Minnesota sent the GOP to the senate you can rest assure they would have proposed nothing and opposed everything. Everybody loves dogs not a bad place to start. I am sure the GOP will cry rabies or poop scoopers.

    July 20, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Mark

    Mobius, are you serious? Nonstop idiocy since January? You'd rather go back to the eight years of war, the doubling of the national debt, the cronyism, the hypocrisy, the who cares about the environment, the poor, and anyone who disagrees with me? I look at my 401(k) and believe me, I don't think I can blame the current group in D.C. for how dreadful that looks nowadays!

    And Franken being in the news for service dogs for veterans, which is a good idea...and a lot better way to spend his time than sleeping around on his wife, something that a lot of other politicians seem to be known for lately...Family Values party, yeah right...

    July 20, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Raymond Burgoon-Clark

    Why couldn't the Rethuglicriminals come up with this? Too many "zipper malfunctions?"

    The BuschReich sent our young people into harm's way in TWO ILLEGAL WARS and then cut the VA budget to take care of them when they came home.

    If for no other reason than that, they should be HUNG as TRAITORS.

    July 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Tom Policastro

    This is a great article and as a vet myself I'm glad to see that he's thinking about all of the men and women returning from this needless war. But I also think that the Latest News headline writer is an idiot. Franken's first goal is obviously to take care of our vets. So the headline on the front page should have been written " Returning veterans first priority for Sen. Franken.

    July 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. bob in LA

    We need to get a contract form candidates to hold them to when they are elected.
    Are Vets an major issue? Yes. Are dogs for them the top of the list? Hardly.

    July 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. KiltedinSeattle

    You have the right point, Dominican. I really don't like Franken's politics but I agree with this issue. Service dogs (or even just well trained dogs) can be immensely beneficial for those who need them.

    His comments on Sotomeyor? Oh, yeah. Suck up big time but he's faced with the task of approving an intellect far superior to his own.

    July 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. Lisa

    I guess if you're concerned with Judge Sotomayor's reversal rate, you were also offended by then – Judge Alito's reversal rate since he was also consistently struck down by the high court.

    I absolutely support the funding of this program – something that gives actual benefits to our veterans – rather than the typical lip service to "support our troops."

    July 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Sheryl From Michigan

    Republicans send our troops to fight in unnecessary wars.
    Democrats try to mend our heroes when they come home.

    Thank you Senator Franken for remembering the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and for trying to make life better for them when they come back to us.

    July 20, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Kevin B

    I say we should just keep treating the vets the same way the Bush administration did; that is:

    -Give lots of lip service to vet issues, but no real services
    -Ensure they do not get the promised coverage and pay out of pocket for much of thier needs.
    -Ensure their families send them the protective armour they need in combat
    -Underfund the VA.

    Mr Franken has a very nice idea and it might just improve quality of life for our wounded warriors, please do give the republican chicken hawks a second thought because of course all we hear from the GOP is the worst, never the best of America

    July 20, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. notfooledtx

    Sounds like a great program for our troops and the problems they're suffering with in silence. It could be a great help to them.

    Leave it to the republicans to blast away. Give us another chorus of "we support the troops and the Dems don't" too while you're at it.

    July 20, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Ken

    Good job Al.

    Anybody seen the [R] hero Normie lately? Methinks he continues to re-brown his nose, but down in Texas now.

    July 20, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Eric in St. Paul, MN

    Come on CNN – make the headline reflect the story! The wording of the ticker link on the front page, as well as the headline of this story omit the word "service", as in "service dogs." This marginalizes the entire Franken proposal. Everyone should know about Franken's efforts for service members and veterans, including his USO tours and efforts to get body armor for our troops in Iraq!

    July 20, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. jeff

    LOL, you elect a comedian and you expect any less? What a literal JOKE. What's next you dems, you look worse than the righties!!! I know, how about a clown for senate, or maybe a flying circus could just run the House?

    July 20, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Tina, NC

    Mobius, hows that mermaid bill the rebubs introduced going?

    July 20, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Supporter not a hater

    Really Roger.. Come on now. The article is loaded with the headline anyway. How does the reporter (Lauren Kornreich) know that Dogs are his first "goal". Myabe Franken's first goal was to move into his office!

    I find this sort of reporting so biased it is not even funny. So many reporters and editors think they are so smart by writing catchy little headlines like this. Do us all a favor and just write about (factually) what you saw. We the reader can make our own opinions and conjecture whåt we will.

    July 20, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. ErikS.

    I've made fun of the fact that Franken got in under less than transparent ways, but this is pretty cool on his part...

    July 20, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. Ashley

    I think what he is doing is really awsome. My father is a Veteran and could have used a companion when he was going through his hard times.

    July 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Wendy

    Franken must feel a bit insecure, since some people seem to judge his comedic history as a strike against his credibility. I think he's showing real guts to sponsor something that can be summarized flippantly. Only those who bother to get details will see it for the well-considered and beneficial project it looks to be. I think he will serve admirably.

    July 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. Zero.

    He's been watching too many vagrants on the streets. That is not where Veterans belong...

    July 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. Nick

    To Doug – Her reversal rate is normal, the Supreme Court generally does not take up cases that do not pose constitutional issues or ones in which they agree with the lower courts ruling.

    dominican mama is right when she says "you have to start somewhere." Franken is a freshmen senator and won a contested and close election. Hes playing it smart by starting with basic legislation that will receive wide support. After all not too many congress(wo)men could vote against a bill designed to ease the pain and suffering of wounded veterans. Simple, functional, and for a politician most importantly popular.

    Its not idiocy, nor is this bill supposed to represent change (i won't get into the whole "change" issue as an institutionalist). This is a snaphot of day-to-day legislation.

    July 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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