(103) Part II: Interview with Veteran Jeffrey Crockett

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)

In Tuesday’s Miss Molly Blog, we printed the first part of an interview with Veteran Jeffrey Crockett about his discrimination lawsuit against the Days Inn in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the first part, we introduced Jeff and his family, including his service dog, Phineas. This blog concludes the interview, as Jeff talks about his reaction to the settlement and his plans for the future.

Jeff’s Reaction to the Settlement

Veteran Jeffrey CrockettReading about the settlement against the Days Inn, I wanted to know Jeff’s reaction and the impact the process had on his family. It surprised me that the cash settlement for his hardship and suffering was minimal. Jeff shared with me his satisfaction with the outcome because the hotel was held accountable for its actions and the settlement included measures to prevent discrimination from occurring against others with service animals. In reference to the damages paid to the family, Jeff responded, “I believe the amount should have been higher than it was. A higher penalty would have ensured that the business would do everything possible to avoid another incident in order to protect its finances.”

Jeff shared that the incident had a huge impact on his life. He suffered severe panic attacks and depression. “I was unable to function for days after the incident and spent most of my time hidden in my house behind the computer, avoiding life and immersing myself in an online world as far away from reality as possible.” The experience left him unable to go outside or in public.

Jeff’s wife, Jennifer, expressed helplessness, watching the event unfold. To this day, she feels apprehensive when making reservations and when accompanying him with his service dog, fearing that they will experience similar rejection. His oldest son also expresses the same fear when accompanying his father and Phineas into a business for the first time.

What would you do differently?

Jeff said he would not do anything differently if a discrimination situation happened again. He advises Veterans not to be afraid to stand up for their rights. “But don’t allow yourself to be baited into a situation where you become the aggressor.” He suggested taking notes to include the date, time, and location of the incident and names/positions of anyone with whom they speak. While he called the police emergency line when the hotel denied him a room, he said he would only recommend that as a last resort.

“My sincere hope is that this action will encourage disabledPhineas tanning on the beach Veterans with service animals to have the courage to stand up to those who would discriminate against them. I also hope this action will help make businesses more aware of the legal costs associated with discriminating against disabled Veterans and their service animals, and force them to educate their staff regarding ADA guidelines and laws.”

Going Forward

Jeff mentioned he had problems initially moving forward. He explained that standing up and fighting for his rights helped him feel better about himself. The fight and victory helped him deal with the pain he felt from the discrimination. “Winning the lawsuit vindicated me by restoring my sense of self-worth.”

When asked about his next challenge, Jeff said, “to continue moving forward and doing my best to deal with my disabilities as best I can. I will continue to stand up for the rights of myself and others, and I will continue to fight against my biggest enemy, myself, while striving to be the best husband, father, son, and citizen that I can be.”

Awesome Crockett

Crockett family with Mickey Mouse

Phineas accompanies six members of the Crockett family on a much deserved R&R with Mickey Mouse

The Graft household and the Miss Molly Team congratulates Jeffrey Crockett for daring to challenge the discrimination and for making it easier for all of us with service animals. We are sorry the Crockett family had to experience this but we are thankful he fought this battle and prevailed. 

Post your Comments: 

Are you apprehensive when entering a business for the first time with your service animal or when accompanying your spouse with a service animal? Please reply below. 

Photo credits: Crockett family pictures provided by Mr. Jeffrey Crockett

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 granddaughter.