…and though it’s not anything groundbreaking, it’s certainly worthwhile. The bill submitted by Sen. Franken would allocate funds to buy and train service dogs for wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as Sen. Franken explained in a recent editorial:
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, and 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 veterans.
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.
Service dogs for wounded veterans is a great idea, and I hope the program succeeds, because the benefits to vets could far outweigh any costs associated with the program.