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. The Shrooming Liberal

    I cannot believe some of you so called "patriotic" republicans have the nerve to bash this! These soldiers have lost their limbs and eyesight and you think getting them service animals is somehow a stupid thing? Shame on all of you! If you people are christians it only reinforces my atheism! How disgusting you people are! Thank you Al and i am sure alot of our disabled military thank you as well.

    July 20, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. susie

    I wonder who let Franklin put his name on their legislation?

    July 20, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. manny

    al's handlers will nail him if he is not careful. he should have started with reducing phone charges and extortion. who ever told him at this time we need dogs taking 25000 each is crazy. hahahahahahahahahahahaha

    July 20, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Thin is in?

    I despise Obambi and Franen is a joke, but..................

    This is a good ge is doing here for my fellow Veterans. so lay off the guy, this is actually a good cause that will help some brave people who volunteered and served.

    hammer him and the chosen one for their stupid "change" policies, this one is a great idea.

    Thank you Stuart.

    July 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Lee from Maine

    Breath of fresh air.

    July 20, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Thin is in?

    I despise Obambi and Franken is a joke, but..................

    This is a good ge is doing here for my fellow Veterans. so lay off the guy, this is actually a good cause that will help some brave people who volunteered and served.

    Hammer him and the chosen one for their other stupid "change" policies, this one is a great idea.

    Thank you Mr. Smiley.

    July 20, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Lynn

    Kudos, Senator Franken! It's about time we begin to address the immense pain and suffering inflicted upon those servicemen and women who give so much to our country. How many of our elected representatives are really addressing the problem and offering ideas to help our courageous citizens who have given so much?
    I hope that people do not condemn Senator Franken's ideas without knowing anything about the service dog programs. Let's really try to help the vets, unlike what this country did to the Vietnam vets who returned to a country that turned its back on them. You can still see them on the streets begging for help. We can and must do better for our young people!

    July 20, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. Pamela, TX

    I like the way the Senator has hit the ground running. I'd say he was worth the wait. I hope that the ciitzens will vote him back in, and this time without the drama.

    July 20, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Facts Anyone?

    Doug Neumann (12:56pm): Ever heard of "lying statistics"? The GOP talking point on this is, at best, a partial statistic. The number they're citing of Sotomayor's decisions that have been overturned is the number of Supreme Court decisions based on Sotomayor's appellate court decisions. Out of the 3,000 or so cases she heard as an appellate judge, only 5 were even reviewed by the Supreme Court, and the decisions in only three of those cases were overturned. Other Supreme Court justices, including Alito, have a worse record with regard to decisions being overturned.

    You're entitled to your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts.

    July 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Really!?

    "And I agree with you Franken: listen, listen to the voice of your constituents.The path will be much clearer to you then." – DM4Obama

    Is that what the little voices in his head are? I thought they might have been caused by other things. This guy is an idiot like all the rest of the liberal left. I am relieved to see that we are already starting to see that voters who screwed up last fall are already starting to see the light.

    Some day the approval ratings of the Obama Administration's Agenda and the DNC will catch up with individuals them selves. There is not one major democratic initiative that has a majority of American's support and that is suing the liberal medias poll numbers – Health Care less than 50%, Stimulus less than 50%, Cap and Trade less than 50%.

    July 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Carl

    Give the man a break. Not every Senate session is a revolution of American society. You have to count the seemingly small things too.

    July 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Chris Powell

    Thank you, Sen. Franken, for not only recognizing that those who give so much deserve much better. Not only will your program provide much needed love and help for these warriors, but will also provide homes, security and love for so many devoted and even unwanted caregivers. Shelter dogs, as well as any, have proven to be more than trainable and are so grateful to be give a home that the love and care they shower on their owners is absolutely boundless. If this bill doesn't pass – then congress should be totally ashamed of themselves (oh, and they shouldn't be able to vote themselves any more raises).

    July 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. Mike

    Franken is an idiot, idiot, idiot. What a joke that he and his Democrate cronies were able to steal the election in Minnesota.

    July 20, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Kevin B

    Mr Franken has a very nice idea and it might just improve quality of life for our wounded warriors, please do NOT 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 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. MW

    The headline should have read his first priority is wounded veterans ..but that would have been less inflammatory.

    July 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Used to vote Republican

    Doug Neumann wrote
    "..Tremendous judge like Sotomeyer?" Hey Al, have you reviewed her cases and how many times she has been overturned?"

    Let me point out that MOST cases reviewed by the Supreme Court get overturned. They do not review them unless there is a high probability to be overturned. Sotomayor has had 3 out of 5 overturned. Not huge numbers, and certainly less, percentage-wise, than the average, which is 75%.

    Al Franken is not a suck up, but you are most certainly an idiot. Stop listening to the talking points of those trying to distort reality.

    July 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Lelai, HI

    To all those who think this is not a worthy subject matter. You try doing basic things without legs or arms or mobility. You try sleeping like a baby after spending two and three tours of duty in George W. Bush's wars.

    I'd say Al Franken is doing his state and the country proud. Keep up the good work Al, and don't let the Party of No deter you from helping the soldiers. The bravest of the brave.

    July 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Mike in NJ

    Mr. Franken, this is ridiculous! Come on, being a sober, reasoned leader in the insane media circus that is Washington Politics will NEVER get you the anger-laden publicity that you are supposed to crave!

    But seriously, this sounds like a phenomenal idea. And it sounds MUCH more cost effective than many of the pork-barrel projects out there... not to mention that, as you said, we owe these brave men and women every effort to make their return to non-military life easier and less painful.

    Roger, Mobius, etc., read up on this subject. Educate yourselves. Judge the IDEA, not the MAN... then maybe you can get YOUR party a leader that deserves a fair hearing.

    July 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. CaprcornOne

    Good idea..better than anything i've heard come out of Washington from any senator in a long time. Why not give back to those that gave for us? Hope he gets it done.

    July 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. Ronnie Beth Herbst


    Good for you!

    July 20, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Greg

    Wow! What a great idea – it has been WAY TOO LONG since we saw a common sense approach to the way we treat our vets. National news has turned recently to stories of traumatized service people who would likely experience great benefits from this funding.

    Outside the box thinking is EXACTLY what we need to initiate real conversation on treating the people who protect us – regardless of political view, you cant deny the shoddy medical treatment our vets get. This might be the kickstart to a veyr interesting approach to the introduction of holisitic treatments for these folks! Way to go Senator!

    July 20, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. joe smith

    hard to believe we pay $137,000.00 a year for a guy to ask that our vets get dogs..how about free education for our vets or medical treatment for life, and revamping our veteran hospitals, that those men and women who need care get the VERY BEST..better yet, propose no war, no war funding, beginning NOW..

    July 20, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Jen

    I think this is a great cause.

    July 20, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Michael Patterson

    I am surprised at the number of people posting here that don't care about our troops.

    Thank you, Senator Franken, for taking a pragmatic approach to helping those braver than most to get by when injured in duty.

    July 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. mn gal

    Thank you Al. We're glad that you are finally in office and making contributions. Don't listening to the whining from those on the Right. They'll be doing that for a very LONG time. Because that's what sore losers do. Norm was the perfect example of the right's childish behaviors.

    July 20, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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