No Way to Treat a Veteran & his Golden Service Dog – Updated

Luis Montalvan, left, a disabled veteran, and his service dog, Golden Retriever Tuesday, met Sen. Al Franken by chance at an inaugural ball in Washington. The former Army captain was wounded in Iraq.

I’ve posted about Al Franken here, here ,here, & here and continue to be so impressed by what he is trying to do in truly making a difference for his constituents. He is a dog lover, of course, as one would expect him to be. A Labrador Retriever guy, in fact. I love that his initial legislation was inspired by a Golden Retriever named Tuesday, and involves the utilization of service dogs in helping to ease the physical and emotional pain of our returning war veterans.

On Nov 16th the good senator penned a commentary about this, A small way to give back to veterans who gave so much“.

One reason I ran for the Senate was to do right by our veterans, and my first piece of legislation was designed to address this epidemic of mental health issues, if in just a small way. I presented a Senate bill, signed into law last month, that creates a public/private partnership to share the cost of providing approximately 200 highly trained service dogs to veterans who have been wounded physically and mentally. The VA will study the benefits to these vets.

My strong belief is that these veterans will require less medication, reduced human care and fewer hospitalizations, and will become more productive citizens. To me, it’s enough that the dogs simply make these vets feel better. But I hope that the study will demonstrate a strong return on investment and that before long we will see an expansion of this program. …

I think of those veterans who survived battle only to struggle with wounds of war, both physical and mental. Many of them gave up two lives too. But we can do more than remember. We can act, and make a difference.

I am sure that Al is quite upset about this suit and how tough life really is for many of our disabled. This is not a new concern. Many people who have service dogs need to worry about their safety, as well as that of their service animal, as there is sometimes no way to escape the ignorance from what we refer to as human beings.

Amazingly, I can barely see a mention of this in the news, but was impressed by this Nov 24th article by Kevin Diaz in the Minneapolis, MN Star Tribune.

A disabled veteran who inspired Sen. Al Franken’s first legislative victory — a service dog program for disabled veterans — is suing McDonald’s for $10 million after allegedly being harassed, beaten, and told that he couldn’t take his service dog inside a fast food restaurant in New York City.

Luis Carlos Montalvan, a former Army captain who was wounded in Iraq, said he was confronted by restaurant workers on two separate visits, and beaten with garbage can lids on a third when he returned with a camera in hand.

Franken, in an e-mail message to Montalvan last week, called it an “awful, bizarre story.” …

Repaying sacrifice
Montalvan, 36, of Brooklyn, filed suit Oct. 28, a week after Congress approved Franken’s provision establishing a pilot program to pair 200 wounded veterans with service dogs from nonprofit agencies. In championing the legislation, Franken cited Montalvan and his service dog, Tuesday, whom he had met in a chance encounter at a presidential inaugural ball in Washington.

Franken said Friday that the incident underscores the problems of returning veterans. “Captain Montalvan made great sacrifices fighting for our country in Iraq,” Franken said. “I’m not entirely familiar with the facts of this case, but what I do know underscores both the need to help our returning veterans and to raise awareness and increase access for service dogs.”

Montalvan served two tours of duty in Iraq, suffering wounds in a knife and hand grenade attack that left him with spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Tuesday, his service dog, is a golden retriever who helps him with balance, mobility and emotional support.

I read that a group of veterans are planning to protest outside the restaurant today on Montalvan’s behalf. As soon as I learn something, I will provide an update here.

NOV 25 UPDATE: Click here to see the video of Luis, Tuesday and some supporters demonstrating at the respective McDonalds.

Here are two fabulous video clips detailing Captain Montalvan’s and Golden Tuesday’s wonderful working union.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

A small way to give back to veterans who gave so much

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