(142) The American Veteran—A Gift that Keeps Giving

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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)

Once a Marine, always a Marine. Once a soldier, always a soldier. Once a warrior, always a warrior. While these may be battle cries, they remain true for our Veterans. Our military men and women train relentlessly to defend the honor and safety of our nation. That inculcated sense of duty remains with the individual for the rest of life.

I imagine that every Veteran experiences negative impact from military service. Just the training alone changes one forever. Compounded with injury, the violence they are exposed to and the personal sacrifices they make to serve, the Veteran forever remains tied to a sense of duty bearing its heavy toll.

When serving in my last city, an Air Force Colonel came to my rescue to help me navigate the military community so prolific in my city. She extended her military service by accepting an assignment in Guantanamo Bay. After her retirement, she spent several years volunteering in various community organizations. Then, one day, she gave her kidney to someone she never met before. Now, she struggles with regaining her health and strength from the strenuous operation. Never once has she expressed regret about her decisions to serve others. Even now, as she returns to the emergency room for complications from the surgery, she maintains a positive attitude, expressing joy that her kidney benefactor is doing well.

In learning about Team Rubicon, which Miss Molly featured in Blog 134, over 8,000 US Veteran volunteers stepped up to help others in our country and around the world in disasters. They continue placing themselves in dangerous situations to help others—others they do not know. Their service gives them purpose and gives others life.

In my Chinese language class, a Veteran and his Veteran cohorts travel to China and other parts of the world to help where needed. My classmate is 70 years old, planning yet another volunteer trip to Mongolia. Other Veterans choose helpful occupations, including nurse practitioners, doctors, police officers, firefighters, teachers, and even city managers.

Those Veterans who cannot travel contribute to non-profit organizations. Many engage locally with programs such as Wounded Warriors and the Special Olympics. The Veterans’ survival and fight for life make them excellent role models to those striving to overcome obstacles. Often the Veteran knows what it takes to survive remarkable barriers and willingly seeks out others needing help.

Too many generations of Americans have viewed the Veteran as a drain on society when in reality the Veteran is the gift that keeps giving. We must learn as a nation to be grateful for those who served and keep giving. We must become a nation of gratitude to those whom we owe so much.

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Do you have a story about a Veteran who keeps giving to your community? Please reply 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 granddaughter.