franken MN Senator, Al Franken, who was finally sworn into office after 8 months of recounts and political BS has made his first piece of legislation a momentous one!  As injured vets, both physically and mentally, are returning home every day, to a country that is in many ways ill-equipped to deal with them,  Franken’s legislation, giving service dogs to vets, is going to give them an extra leg, or four, to stand on and an extra shoulder to lean on.

What could be more appropriate than to have service dogs, heroes in their own right, paired with our vets, our own American heroes.  Men and women who put their lives on the line and can now use an extra hand, or paw to get back on their feet and on with their lives?

Franken, a dog lover himself, spoke with an injured Iraq war vet at Obama’s inauguration and heard about how much help and support his service dog provided him and the idea for the legislation was born.

The bill passed the house this past Thursday and initially introduced as a stand alone bill, was added to a much-larger Defense Authorization bill which cleared the Senate on an 87-7 vote and will be reconciled with an earlier House version that did not contain Franken’s original bill.

If the program within the Department of Veterans Affairs survives, service dogs would be trained to help physically and mentally wounded veterans.

The Service Dogs for Veterans Act would create a pilot program within the Veterans Administration. The VA would partner with non-profit groups which train service dogs.

The program would pair dogs with 200 veterans who have mental or physical disabilities or injuries. The pilot program would operate for three years during which time the National Academies of Science would study its effectiveness.

“There is evidence to suggest that increasing the number of service dogs would reduce the alarming suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations and lower the cost of medications and human care,” Franken said of the proposed three-year program, which carries an estimated $5 million price tag.

For the vets and the dogs, you have to applaud! Live will be saved and improved, our American heroes will have their oun furry little heros by them every day.

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