(61) Molly Hangs Out; What About You? Introducing the VA Hangout on Benefits

Molly, the service dog

Golly, Miss Molly

A blog about a service dog and her veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the veteran and the family caregiver)

Miss Molly’s Hangout

I mentioned in earlier blogs that Molly disappears, escaping through the garage door or after we let her out for get busy. One night this week, I trekked after her through bushes, rocks, and snow. Rustling of trees from a direction opposite the one Molly ran towards sent chills across my back. Molly came running and charged after the culprit. Moments later, a poodle-terrier-cat-kind-of-dog appeared followed by a Bernese mountain dog, and Miss Molly. Molly’s tail wagged enough to create a snowdrift. The poodle-terrier-cat dog yipped at her two companions. They followed her around not minding her bossy style. Clearly, these three were pals and had been for some time. I had discovered Miss Molly’s hangout.

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks 

In my late 50s, I am learning new uses for old terms. Hangout always referred to a place where friends met to talk and pass the time. This week, I learned it refers to a cyber-location where people meet to talk with one another or listen to a podcast (podcast—that was a game we played when given the chore of splitting pea pods; we’d chuck the pods to see who could through the farthest). The VA created a series of podcasts to share with veterans about VA benefits and hear how others transition to civilian life.

About the VA Hangout 

Wednesday’s Google Hangout was the third of four Hangouts. I learned about these just before I posted Tuesday’s Molly blog. I am hoping some of our Molly blog readers joined the hangout, as it shared useful information about veteran benefits. If you missed it and want to watch it, you can find it at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmjHaTEViJQ.

Explore VA 

The VA recently launched the website www.exploreva.gov, which offers nine areas of information specifically for veterans and their families: disability compensation; education and training; employment services; health care; home loans and housing-related assistance; life insurance; memorial benefits; pension; and, spouses, dependents, survivors. The website is easy to navigate and provides a way to track your compensation claims, file employment applications, and link with benefit information. Each of the nine areas includes a video and links for services.

I learned a couple of things I want to share with you. I encourage you to share this information with anyone you know who may be re-entering civilian life after serving in the military.

Apparently, some veteran benefits are time sensitive. For example, one veteran on the podcast mentioned that he returned from Afghanistan with TBI, PTSD, and other physical injuries. He missed his window of opportunity to convert his Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance to a life insurance plan for civilian life. Consequently, he recommends that every veteran check this website immediately after entering civilian life to find information about their benefits.

All four veterans on the podcast emphasized that veterans have already earned these benefits and deserve to collect them. As one man stated, “Don’t be too proud to get what you have already earned.”

The website, www.exploreva.gov, was created by veterans for veterans so it is organized in a way that makes sense. What an awesome place to hangout.

Who Doesn’t Want to Hang Out? 

I shared this information with my Vietnam veteran and asked him if he would like the link to “hangout.”

“Vietnam veterans don’t hangout.” His emphatic tone told me the discussion closed, leaving me with pent-up excitement about this great source of information.

So, I’ll tell all of you post-Vietnam veterans, check out this hangout today!

Post your Comments: 

What was your favorite hangout as a kid or young adult? 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.