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Senate bill includes funding for Franken pet project: service animals for vets with disabilities

Sen. Al Franken reports that funding for the first piece of legislation he authored — providing service dogs to veterans with disabilities — was included in the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Act passed Sunday by the Senate.

His bill on the issue had passed the Senate unanimously in July, two weeks after he was sworn in, and was signed into law by President Obama last month. But the funding approval in the act also was needed.

In a statement, he says:

The Appropriations Act directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately begin the process of assisting veterans with physical and, for the first time, mental illnesses, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), who would benefit from having a service dog. It also provides $2 million in medical services for the program and additional funds for research and VA Inspector General oversight. VA is also directed to expand its partnership with accredited nonprofit service dog organizations where veterans with PTSD help train service dogs.

“We can never do too much for the men and women who risk everything to fight for their country,”  Franken said in the statement. “I feel a real obligation to them for the courage they show and the sacrifices they make. I’m glad that we’ve been able to take this small step toward improving their lives when they come home.”

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