(75) Chicken, Deer, and a Goat: Serving our Veterans

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)


 Plucked Poultry Disaster 

The fragrance of lemon and garlic chicken tickled my husband’s nose, waking him and Molly early from their afternoon nap. A golden brown topping on the roasted chicken promised the special meal I wanted to make my hubby to tell him how much I love him.

William serves as the official carver in our home. With his nap ending early, he offered to help when 90 minutes of roasting ended. Darn but my intentions for the perfect meal flew the coop when William carved the first piece and found it pink and uncooked.

After my second try of cooking the stubborn bird, William tried again. The platter slipped, sending chicken grease and broth in all directions. My butcher-block knife set dripped with disaster. It meant washing 15 knives and figuring out how to get the gunk out of the knife slots. His good intention of helping kept me in the kitchen for an extra hour cleaning.

VA’s Venison Disaster

 I received an email alert from the VA today, announcing, “A Big Change is Coming.” The website announced that improvements to the on-line va.gov program makedeer behind tree it easier for Veterans to file, track, and appeal claims. The VA encourages users to preview the site and see how much a Veteran will be able to accomplish on-line.

Excited about the improvements, I tried one of the selections. “Oops, there is nothing on this page,” stared me in the face. Then, a notice that the site would be unavailable later in the evening sprawls over the screen in red. Finally, I pursued another link relevant to my husband’s needs and the message told me I could not access the information unless I have a “DEER” ID. Searching for an explanation of “DEER,” I found nothing to help. I sat there shaking my head, feeling like the deer in the headlights—clueless and frustrated.

I assume the intentions are good but if the sneak preview is any indication, I fear the site may trigger a rash of PDST anxiety attacks. Of course, the official site airs March 24 so while the sneak preview fails the Service Award of the Year, I am hoping Veterans will be better served by the final product . . . in just one business day.

Greedy Goat Disaster

News broke this week of yet another cost overrun for the construction of the new Denver VA Medical Center. What began in the $300 million range now tops $1.7 billion. The project falls further behind schedule every month with scathing reviews of project management. With no end in sight, the VA intended it as something good to help Veterans. This greedy goat just keeps eating more and more of those green leafy bills with little to show by way of completion. Who is to blame? Congressional representatives identified the scapegoat and called for termination of the VA project managers. In the meantime, the Army Corp of Engineers took over the project, which sits on hold waiting for either more money or a revised project (or a new escape goat).

Dissolution and Despair

I believe the VA and its employees want to serve our Veterans—just as I wanted to make my husband the perfect dinner and he wanted to help me carve the chicken. Unfortunately, efforts fall short in all cases. My husband’s experience with the VA over the past 48 years makes him doubt that the Veteran will ever be served properly.

The task of caring for Veterans is even more monumental than the “elaborate monument to mismanagement,” as termed by Channel 9 in reference to the Denver VA Hospital cost overrun. I wish intentions counted for everything. In reality, it counts for little when serving Veterans, who served us with great personal sacrifice. After all, if our warriors intended to protect a significant outpost but failed and lost a city to the enemy, would the response, “but we intended to win,” carry much weight?

No wonder our Veterans express dissolution and despair over their care.

Molly Benefits From Good Intentions 

With Molly’s diet, she did not mind the half-cooked chicken or the splashed grease. A lick here and a lick there, she appreciated our good intentions and failed efforts.

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Would you like to share a story of good intentions that did not work out? 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.