Golly, Miss Molly
A blog about a service dog and her veteran with PTSD
(Supporting the veteran and the family caregiver)
Last Friday, I shared the first half of 50 Fun Things To Do With Your Disabled Veteran. This is the second half of the list, including items 26 to 50. (For a PDF version of all 50 items, please visit this link.) Not all of these items may be appropriate for your veteran and you may decide to create your own. My veteran and I have done many of these and I found that they were helpful in giving us positive time together and in helping him share his war experiences in a non-threatening way.
26. In Your Own Backyard. Check out your local community center for activities that might interest your veteran; if either of you are senior citizens, inquire about senior programs that you can do together
27. Program Supporting Warriors Wounded in Battle. Inquire about a program that supports warriors wounded in battle in your area; there are many sports and competitions available for disabled veterans
28. Fuddy Music. Find out your veteran’s favorite music when he/she was a teenager and buy or check out a CD of the music; consider dressing in an outfit from that timeline and possibly adding a decoration or two to your veteran’s safe room that will remind him/her of the “good ole days.”
29. People Watching. Spend an afternoon people-watching at a mall or lobby of a movie theatre; VA Hospitals often provide free coffee and cookies with large waiting areas where you can people-watch; talk about the people—speculate about their profession, issues, birth order, etc.
30. 30 Minutes of Sun. Find a safe place outdoors with partial sun and join your veteran for some rays; pack a lunch or snack to enjoy the time; although my veteran’s medications say to stay out of the sun, he fell low on Vitamin D and now has to have 30 minutes of sun a day to be healthy; likely your veteran may have the same issues if homebound so bring an umbrella
31. Don’t Discount the Discount. Ask your veteran to take on a project for a grandchild, child, or neighbor where some work is required such as making a bed for a doll, crafting a tent with PVC piping and fabric, or making a playhouse from a cardboard box
32. A Charlie Horse that Doesn’t Hurt. Sign up for a therapeutic horse-riding session; check with your local riding center for help in finding a place that will work with the disabled; try to find a stable that has miniature horses, as these animals are used in therapy—you just can’t ride them; miniature horses are the only animal other than dogs that are permitted to be used as service animals.
33. Seasonal Shebang. Visit a seasonal display such as a pumpkin patch, Christmas tree farm, department store at Christmas to watch kids with Santa, a small town parade, or a country fair
34. Create the Bucket. Create the bucket list of things you and your veteran would like to do together and select one place to visit together within the next year. If you or your veteran cannot travel, buy an art board and create a travel board together with pictures from a travel magazine or the internet; buy a book on the place, find a CD of music from the place, serve a dish from the locale, order matching t-shirts to remind you of your virtual trip
35. Narration Fables. Ask your veteran to record three children’s stories on a CD to give to a child along with the book as a Christmas or birthday present
36. Veteran Stardom. Video tape an interview with your veteran, telling a story from growing up, about the war, or a special event; on-line software will allow you to edit, if needed [Please check with your veteran’s doctor before considering this exercise]
37. Where’s Donovan? Find a friend or old war buddy of your veteran and arrange a skype, phone call, or opportunity to see each other again; be sure this is acceptable to your veteran
38. Always in Time. Create a time capsule to leave to someone special or if your veteran is young, to open in ten or so years; the items should be small and important symbols of your veteran’s life
39. Amateur Portraiture. Contact your local high school or community college to find an art student to draw a caricature or sketch of your veteran; have it framed for a gift for your veteran
40. Legacy Collector. Start a coin collection for someone young; an easy collection is quarters with State names that have collector books easy to find; have your veteran go through piles of quarters and fill the books; consider other collectible items such as stamps, postcards, or key rings
41. Taste Tester. Conduct taste tests with different types of yogurts, crackers, cheeses, apples, dressings, etc.
42. Aquarium Acquire. With your veteran, select a small aquarium (one that takes the least amount of work for the caregiver); locate the aquarium in the veteran’s safe room or space; consider fish, lizard, snake or even a small animal in a cage
43. Green Fingers. Bring home an indoor plan or seedlings for the veteran to care for and watch grow; consider growing herbs in small containers in-doors
44. Map your Meddle. Obtain a map of the area where your veteran grew up, wants to visit or thinks of as a positive place; draw a tour route on the map and highlight with pictures from the internet or your photo collection that resemble the landmarks; cover the map with vinyl by gluing the edges and use as a table top, desktop or computer mouse pad for the veteran
45. Journal Jazz. Either keep a journal or encourage your veteran to start a journal of his/her favorite things; use collage, scrapbooking, paint swatches, crayons, pens, or any media that seems appealing; capture positive images and events
46. Thankful For. In quiet time with your veteran, start a ‘thankful for’ game, taking turns, to name one thing you are grateful for; see how many items you can name; do the game once a month, keeping a list of what you are both grateful for (will help remind the caregiver of the good things when caregiving becomes challenging); consider putting your grateful list items on small cards and hang from a bulletin board, refrigerator, or even your Christmas tree, if you celebrate the season
47. Nature’s Cubby. Find an outdoor space that your veteran will like and make the outdoor space as comfortable as possible; facilitate the veteran’s visit to this place frequently, bringing snacks, books, or other things to pass the time; if there is no private space available for this, find the space in a public garden, park, or trail
48. Public Day. Visit a museum, aquarium, botanical garden, zoo, or other public place (during a weekday, if possible, to minimize crowds); make the visit leisurely without pressure to see it all with focus on what the veteran desires, even if it is to sit; I find that bodies of water are attractive and soothing for the veteran so a place with a lake, river, fountains are good places to go
49. Oldies and Goodies. Spend an afternoon watching old western movies or just old movies with your veteran; air pop popcorn, using a variety of non-salt spices to flavor
50 Ransack Rummage. Co-opt your veteran to help on a Spring cleaning day to get rid of old, unwanted items; maybe select a garage, closet, stored boxes for the project; find at least one item to repurpose for something useful as a project you and your veteran can work on together
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Please add your ideas of fun things to do with your veteran. Please comment below.
About the blogger
Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her grandchildren.