Senator Franken’s First Bill

Minnesota’s junior Senator, Al Franken, has already introduced his first bill and to hear him speak of it, it sounds like a good one. The legislation would allocate funds to buy and train service dogs for wounded Iraq & Afghanistan vets. In Franken’s own words:

“This January, I met Luis Carlos Montalvan and his service dog named Tuesday, a beautiful golden retriever, at an inaugural event in Washington.

Luis had been an intelligence officer in Iraq, rooting out corruption in Anbar Province. In 2005, Capt. Montalvan was the target of an assassination attempt. Now he walks with a cane and suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

Service dogs raise their masters’ sense of well-being. There is evidence to suggest that increasing their numbers would reduce the alarming suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations, & lower the cost of medications and human care.

Unfortunately, few of these service dogs are available to veterans like Luis. It costs on average about $20,000 to train a service dog and another $5,000 to place the dog with the veteran. It is my strong belief that a service dog will more than pay for itself over its life, and my bill is designed to determine the return on investment with a pilot program that provides service dogs to hundreds of vets.

My bill will help train a statistically significant number of dogs to measure the benefits to veterans with physical and emotional wounds. The program would be monitored and refined over a three-year period to optimize its effectiveness.”

I saw a show on Animal Planet a few months back about an organization that trains service dogs for vets returning from combat. To say these dogs make a difference in the lives of these soldiers is an understatement. Sometimes these men wake in the middle of the night in cold sweats, full of the shakes, but with their trusty dog at their side, the effects are quickly calmed. They also help acclimate the soldiers to civilian life and keep them grounded in day-to-day routine.

It’s really no surprise that Franken’s first bill would be one that supports our military, after all he’s been a huge supporter of the USO for years. I’m glad that he’s put his congressional foot forward with this important first bill – there are many brave men, and abandoned animals that will both benefit if it becomes law. All in all, not a bad first bill for someone Bill O’Reilly recently called “…a blatently dishonest individual…who trafficked in hate.” Better not tell the dogs, Bill.