(44) An Abundance of Resources for Our Veterans and Caregivers

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Golly, Miss Molly

A blog about a service dog and her veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the veteran and the family caregiver)

 A Note to Veterans

Thanksgiving represents a season of giving and being thankful. For our veterans, it may be difficult to feel festive or feel that you have reasons to give thanks. For those of us who never served in the military, we have you to be thankful for. Without your sacrifice, we would not be celebrating a time of abundance, peace, and safety. Miss Molly’s prayer for you and our prayer for you is that you find peace and joy in these times and all year through. The nightmares that haunt you will someday give way to the brighter days. All may seem dark to you now but there is relief coming. Reach out to others and share your story. While we cannot understand the pain you feel or know what you experienced in war—whether it be four months ago or forty years ago—we care about you and want you to enjoy the positive side of what you fought for.

On this Thanksgiving week, we thank God that you answered the call of service and gave your all to keep us safe.

Miss Molly’s Thanksgiving Morning

Molly's wild turkey girls

Yum! Dinner

Miss Molly started her Thanksgiving morning by chasing a flock of turkey girls up the side of our mountain. As she closes in, the girls stumbled on rocks. Still, they managed to evade her. I think she figured it is easier to get the falling food from grandchildren under the table than to start with the fresh, living, un-plucked hen. In fact, her instincts proved her right, as she scored big time with a scoop of turkey gravy and several chunks of ham and even corn giblets.

A Cornucopia of Resources

As we celebrate from a cornucopia of abundance, I wanted to share with our veterans and their caregivers many of the resources I learned about earlier this month when I attended a VA workshop for caregivers.

1.  The VA is in the process of sending out the Veterans Health Benefits Handbook to all veterans in the VA Health Care system. The VA website indicates the handbook is tailored to each veteran although I haven’t figured out what part isCover of the VA Health Benefits Handbook personalized from reading my husband’s copy. It is worth reading when you receive yours, as it contains information about benefits you might not hear about such as travel reimbursement to drive to your VA facility for appointments. The mailing of handbooks to eight million veterans began in September of this year based upon an eight-group priority mailing. The mailings by group are expected to take place through fall of 2016—how’s that for a big mailing! For the mailing schedule, click on the link above. To find your mailing group, see page 5, 6, and 7 of the sample handbook. Please make sure the VA has your current mailing address. You can update your mailing address at your local VA facility or by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

2.  Want a better understanding of PTSD? The National Center for PTSD offers free on-line classes for PTSD. The Center offers free college credit for some of the classes. Where do you start? How about PTSD 101? The more we know as caregivers, the easier our roles become and the better able we are to help the ones we love. Be sure to wander the PTSD Home Page and all of its offerings.

3.  Veteran’s Choice Program allows veterans, meeting certain criteria, to obtain health care at non-VA facilities. Just to mention a few of the conditions, the veteran must be at least 40 miles from the nearest VA facility and the veteran’s wait for an appointment must be more than 30 days. To see the full criterion and details about the program, click the link above.

4.  Are you an App-aholic? The VA Caregivers Program provided a good list of apps to make it easier to help your veteran. With permission of the VA, I’m attaching the list:  VA Apps for Caregivers. I’m not a big app user (actually I’ve never even used one) but the woman I attended the workshop with said they seriously rock (that means they are really good). So what’s included? Free Mental Health Smartphone Apps for the Veteran, VA Smartphone Apps for Use with Therapy, Non-VA Free Mental Health Smartphone Apps, Free Online Mental Health Resources for Veterans, and Apps for Blind and Visually Impaired.

5.  Be sure to look at the VA Caregiver Support Program that I mentioned in a earlier blog. The Caregiver’s support number is 855-260-3274.

6.  Champ VA medical coverage is free for spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans. You may qualify for ChampVa medical benefits. The program is awesome. I became eligible just one year before I found out I had cancer. Champ VA capped my treatment plan that exceeded $300,000 at $3,000–what a lifesaver! The VA offers a supplemental health insurance plan that pays your co-pays for you. Plus, your prescriptions are free if you use Meds by Mail (or 100 percent reimbursable if you use your own pharmacy). This year, ChampVa started a Dental Insurance program with Delta Dental. The rates are competitive.

7.  Directory of important VA benefit services such as Disability Compensation, Disability Pension, Home Loan Guaranty, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Health Care Benefits, Homeless Veterans, and more.

This list scratches the surface of what is available. As I come across more resources, I will share them with you. We’d love to hear from you if you have resources you want to share with other veterans.

What are William and I thankful for? William and Molly


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What are you thankful for? Please comment below. 

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

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.