(177) Taps: Saying Goodbye to Miss Molly

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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)

Our last two blogs addressed military bugle calls of Reveille and Sunset. Taps sounds the final bugle call of the day. The terminology “taps” comes from the Dutch term taptoe, which means “close the beer taps and send the troops back to camp.” The well-known tune goes by the name of “Butterfield’s Lullaby” or “Day is Done.”

Letting Go of Precious Miss Molly

Molly snuggles with WilliamOur family weeps for the need to move Miss Molly to a new home due to my severe breathing problems. After three months of fighting for every breath, we made the decision to “re-home” her.

Molly’s groomer picked her up one evening and called to tell us about the possibilities of new homes for her. Until a new home is found, Miss Molly stays with the groomer and her two large male dogs. As it turns out, Miss Molly dominates the boys, who willingly submit to her alpha-mom status. She also reported that Molly, a 135 pound St. Bernard/Great Pyrenees, sleeps in bed between her and her husband. With a huge backyard and two playmates, Molly runs and plays all day—something she did not get to do living with us. The groomer reports that she sometimes sits in a corner and whimpers, breaking our hearts even more.

The Dilemma 

Molly giving William loveMolly served many roles in our home: protector, friend, PTSD coach, brace and balance expert, service dog, and our canine love. Her role intervening in PTSD attacks for my Veteran made her indispensable for his disability. She even helped me with brace and balance while undergoing chemotherapy. So, to be faced with a decision about accommodating my severe asthma or William’s need for his service animal, I would have preferred to live with my condition. Unfortunately, my doctor made it clear that living with my condition would not last long, as the damage to my lungs threatens my life.

Molly licking her lipsFor days after giving her up, we see Molly running up the stairs, we hear her dewclaws clicking on the floor, and hear her snoring in the closet—only she isn’t here. We grieve with tears large enough to fill dry lakes. While in the kitchen, I hear sobbing from the den where my husband grips the arms on his chair. The microwave drowns out my sobs but moisture on my apron betrays my sorrow. When I serve dinner and Miss Molly no longer surfaces from naptime to sniff the menu, my Veteran and I hold hands and pray that Miss Molly finds a good home and is doing well. Before falling asleep at night after Taps, we long to hear her snoring just one more time.

The Finality of Taps 

Miss Molly in patriot dressWhen I started the three-part series on bugle calls, I planned to talk about the relief it brings one. It tells us the day is in the past. Whatever we left behind stays behind. Taps tells us turning back events cannot happen and the time has come to let go of the day, looking forward to tomorrow.

With the loss of Miss Molly in our lives, the final bugle call becomes more final for us. Prospects of tomorrow without our lovable fur ball pains us like daggers in the heart. Taps reminds us we cannot get in the car and retrieve Molly to tell her we love her and it was all a mistake. Taps tells us that we must truly let her go.

Molly sits on William's lapSaying Goodbye to the Molly Blog 

Because this blog is Molly’s blog, it cannot continue without her. While this blogger remains committed to encouraging Veterans and their family caregivers, without the heart and stories of Miss Molly, I must also let go of the blog. This is the last blog.

Taps to Miss Molly 

Although I wrote a poem when my cat died, I do not have the words to express the loss of our Miss Molly. I will end by saying:

Miss Molly with CadburyMiss Molly we love you so much. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. Thank you for your loyalty to my Veteran. For your slobbering, messes, and snoring, I’m sorry I complained. You were a blessing to our household. We will never forget how you changed our lives for the better. May God grant you a new loving home with vast fields to run and play. May he grant you a family, who needs you as much as we do. May you continue to inspire great stories and touch others as deeply as you touched us.

For Miss Molly, Taps plays.

May you rest in the Butterfield’s Lullaby.

(176) Sunset: Call to Retreat

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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)

For our troops no rest approaches at sunset when fighting the war against terrorism. For our Veterans, a state of hypervigilance remains with most with a readiness to take up arms to protect our nation at any call, declaring restsunset over the beach elusive. For the caregivers of our Veterans and family members left behind during military deployments, the full burden falls upon their shoulders to provide care on the home front, leaving no time for rest when the Sunset bugle calls.

Last week, the Molly Blog spoke of the Reveille bugle call, waking troops in a call to action. Today, the blog focuses on Sunset, the call to retreat for the day. The Sunset bugle call, or Retreat, serves as a call to rest and remember those who fought the battle before.

We think of loved ones near and far

And those who’ve fought the fight before

Keep safe your people, Lord

This night and for evermore.

Knowing When to Retreat: A Caregiver’s Perspective 

While this blogger knows nothing of battle and retreat, the importance of retreat as a strategy for survival remains clear. As a caregiver of a Veteran, we battle through the emotions boiling in our Veteran; we fight for our family; tackle mounds of laundry, dishes, and bills; and, fiercely defend our Veteran to ensure proper health care treatment.

Often the easiest path pushes us to do everything ourselves without regard for our own needs. Even the VA (Veterans Administration) understands the need for Retreat, offering a strong caregiver support program and network.

The VA launched the PTSD Family Coach app to help the family caregiver know when to retreat with advice on how to cope when living with or caring for a military member or Veteran with PTSD and/or TBI. It offers a knowledge base on PTSD; stress assessment; safety plan; links for resources; and, help when feeling isolated, angry, or experiencing insomnia. When loading the app, it invites the user to personalize stress intervention by loading favorite pictures and music. A long list of tools numbered 25 when loaded this morning. Topics range from mindful eating to soothing beach scenes with audio. Although the app only serves iOS users today, the VA works to bring it to the Android platform soon.

Veteran’s families can call Coaching Into Care:


Don’t forget that the VA offers a similar app for our service members and Veterans, referred to as the PTSD Coach. The VA reports that the app resides on over 100,000 mobile devices in 74 countries. The National Center for PTSD developed this popular app and it is available for free by downloading to an iOS or Android device (the above web link includes a desktop version, as well).

Retreat is Not Weakness

While it may feel otherwise, no shame exists in retreat. As my Veteran said, “It’s better to retreat today and fight tomorrow.” This applies to our caregivers, as well as our military. Without retreating and refreshing, we as parents and spouses risk our families. Our warriors go to war to protect our country and our families, so why would one ignore the need to retreat when life overwhelms us? 

Molly’s Response to the Sunset Bugle Call 

Even Miss Molly and her Veteran know when to retreat and rest. Do they enjoy it?

Molly Enjoys Retreat

Oh, yeah!

Post your Comments: 

What do you do to help yourself and your family when you need to retreat? 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 grandchildren.

(175) Reveille Roust: Our Wake-up Call

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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)

I admit that I am an insomniac. The rhythm of my internal clock works contrary to the bugle calls we hear from our local military base. I rise long before reveille and listen to taps hours before retiring. While productive for completing a caregiver’s task list, agitation accompanies my condition, sending my household into a tailspin. Even Miss Molly sleeps with her head buried under clothes in the closet to avoid my early-morning rousting and late-night vigils.

Honoring the American Flag and Our Warriors

soldier saluting flag


Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan explained that reveille, retreat, and taps all serve to show respect for the flag and honor Airman, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines from past to present.  Ellsworth Air Force Base website

I asked my Veteran the role reveille played in his military service. His response surprised me.

“Always too early. Get up or get hit upside the head. Another day. Same routine.”

As a young man fighting in the bush of Vietnam, I expected the sound of reveille twisted in his belly and sent shivers along his spine, knowing what dreaded tasks awaited his unit. Instead, he viewed it as routine. I suppose when living in a heightened state of awareness every minute of every day on the battlefield, the early-morning rousting presented nothing more than a marker that another day begins.

Caregiver’s Opportunity

magnified to do list


Making to-do lists keeps me going forward as a caregiver. No matter the daily challenges, those lists keep me focused and productive. For a caregiver, reveille comes too early but it gives her (or him) a chance to have quiet and peace before the household rises. It offers an opportunity to pray, meditate, and prepare for what lies ahead. In these early hours, we gain the strength to serve our Veteran and other family members. It offers time to enjoy a cup of tea and scratch out the to-do list.

Perhaps, with reveille, whether by bugle call from a nearby base or an alarm clock, an exciting new task might be added to our to-do lists—a task that holds fun or excitement for us and/or our Veteran. This might include a walk in a park, going to a movie, putting together a puzzle, having lunch with a friend, or taking our Veteran and service dog to the local library or hospital to cheer others in need. While several of these ideas require advance planning, adding that planning to our to-do list today allows us to enjoy that exciting venture on another day after reveille calls.

Veterans’ Opportunity

My Veteran hates to-do lists but always manages to finishes those I make for him. While I do not envision him making them for himself, his contentment with his routine brings peace to my hectic days.

For Veterans viewing reveille as routine, perhaps shaking up the day with a new challenge could chase away the doldrums. Check out the VA website for a free class such as PTSD 101 or download the TBI or PTSD coach apps. The VA offers whiteboard discussions about benefits and medical conditions and video testimonials about coping with PTSD and TBI. If none of those options sound appealing, how about a trip to Petsmart with your service dog to find a treat for your loyal canine?

Miss Molly’s Reveille Reaction

While researching reveille, I found the music and played a few bars on my piano for Miss Molly. Even though I waited until noon to play for her, she whined, paced, and howled. I wasn’t sure if she was singing along until she bolted from the room. We found her in the closet with her paws over her ears. How unfortunate, indeed.

Post your Comments: 

How do you respond to reveille? 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 grandchildren.

(173) ADA Trumps a Sneeze: Service Dogs and Allergies

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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)

Miss Molly, the Sneeze Tease 

Occasionally, asthma tickled the fringe of my life but nothing seriously until recently. In full asthma distress, I sought medical intervention with a breathing treatment and an arsenal of inhalers. Full distress just popped up one day and remains nagging. We identified the source when I walked into the bedroom one evening and collapsed in a coughing fit. Molly peeked out from a hidden corner in the room to assist. At that moment, we knew Molly instigated the attack. My doctor confirmed pet dander is the most frequent cause of adult onset of asthma. I call it OLA, Old Lady Asthma.

A Husband’s Call to Action 

Molly works as William’s service dog to help before and during panic attacks. She assists him with brace and balance. We love her and consider her a member of the family. Nonetheless, his response promised swift relocation to another family if my distress continued.

“Stop! Let’s try everything else first. After all, ADA prevails over my allergy to dander.” I assured him many options exist to Molly just groomed reduce exposure.

So, what do we do?

  1. Get the asthma under control with Prednisone
  2. Banish the dog at night to a faraway location
  3. Schedule maintenance of the house air filtration system
  4. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum
  5. Take the dog to a groomer. Ooh la la, she looks beautiful with her polka dot bows in freshly fluffed fur
  6. Stock inhalers in every room
  7. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum

If this does not work . . .

  1. Banish wife to a faraway location

Taking it Seriously

Mollys polka dot bowsAsthma and allergies to animals are no laughing matter. ADA guidelines state clearly, however, that the rights of people experiencing allergies to a service animal in public places do not prevail over or limit the rights of a disabled person to keep that animal in public. Businesses are encouraged to relocate the individual with allergies to another location whenever possible. I have seen many service dog owners, including my husband, move when someone nearby shows allergy distress. For me, however, that means at least a 20-foot perimeter.

An Uncertain Future 

Asthma may break my lungs, but giving Molly away would break my heart. Here’s hoping for a creative solution to this game of Bridge. In my home, ADA trumps a sneeze. At the very least I can say, “Miss Molly takes my breath away!”

Post your Comments 

What have you done to deal with allergies to pets in your household? 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 grandchildren.

(172) Girls Don’t Like Bologna: Military Sexual Trauma

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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)

Miss Molly Crashes Through Stereotypes

Even though I fought my way up the career ladder in a male-dominated profession, I find that I know nothing about the challenges women face in the military. In fact, Miss Molly reminded me of my errors in stereotyping females when she gulped down a chunk of bologna I dropped when making lunch for my Veteran (so much for girls not liking bologna).

Until now, I have avoided the subject due to my ignorance. Over the past few months, our VA clinic overflows with young female Veterans. Rarely, do these Veterans engage in dialogue, being guarded about their service and experiences. Evidence of despair and hurt ripple through their bodies and in sputters as they speak. Clearly, these Veterans experienced trauma similar to their male counterparts with one significant addition—the predominance of sexual trauma because of their gender. Of course, men also experience sexual trauma.

For this blog, we begin exploration of MST (Military Sexual Trauma) with the statistics.

The Facts about MST 

The VA reports that of the men and women screened at VA facilities for medical care, one in four women report a history of MST. One in 100 men report a history of MST. Because of the dominate number of men in the military, over 40 percent of MST cases reported to the VA are from male victims. The VA declared that MST leads to PTSD more often than other types of trauma.

On a national level, 293,000 victims are sexually assaulted every year. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) estimates that 68 percent of sexual assaults remain unreported; it is no wonder since 98 percent of rapists will never see jail or prison time for their crimes.

Help for MST 

Department of Defense Assistance 

DoD Safe Helpline 877-995-5247 via text or call for help 24/7

The DoD offers help to any individual, who experienced military sexual trauma, rape, or domestic violence. As well, free VA services wait for any Veteran, who experienced MST regardless of the individual’s disability rating. The DoD works with assault victims for not only their healing but to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Veterans Affairs Assistance 

VA Crisis Hotline at 1-800-827-1000 

The VA website for MST offers a list of programs and services, a fact sheet, articles about MST, and links to helpful resources. The site includes a PDF brochure of compensation and claims issues for MST. This document states that while the VA will not rate a disability based on MST experiences, it may rate a disability for issues related to MST, which include PTSD.

In addition to connecting with other resources, the VA employs a MST coordinator at every VA facility. You do not need to have a service-connected disability to use this resource and receive help. The VA stresses:

To receive these services, you do not need a VA service-connected disability rating, to have reported the incident when it happened, or have other documentation that it occurred. Eligibility for MST-related treatment is entirely separate from the disability claims process.

VA Website on MST

RAINN Assistance

National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by RAINN at 800-626-HOPE (4673)

RAINN offers assistance with a 24/7 hotline, resources, and links. It also advocates for the rights of assault victims and for use of DNA in apprehending and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Be Tough; Be Military Strong

During my tenure as an adjunct professor, I met several female Veterans struggling through unresolved issues. Several shared that they suffered from MST but refused help. One Veteran told me, “Marines don’t cry. We suck it up. We move on.” My heart broke as I watched her emotional health crumble with the stress of her civilian job and work on her graduate degree. She agreed to talk with my husband, as a fellow Veteran, who often drove me to campus. He offered to refer her to a mental health counselor at the VA and for us to meet her at the VA hospital but she declined. By the end of the semester, she shared that a female friend accompanied her to the VA to get help. For the first time during the semester, I saw flickers of hope in her eyes.

I never walked in the shoes of a Veteran. Everything I know comes from being married to a disabled combat Veteran for 22 years, talking and observing Veterans at VA facilities, or through my research. I believe the strength of character and resolve of my student mentioned above in seeking help makes her a model of courage. She recognized that to be able to fulfil the military mantra of being tough, putting it behind you, and moving on, she first had to ask for help.

Post your Comments 

What makes military service different for men than women? 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 grandchildren.

(171) Even a Bird: Ultimate Hope for Veterans and Their Families

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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)

Spring Cleaning

My broom whisked into corners of the garage, kicking up dust and last year’s insects. With a broad sweep, the beak of a hummingbird peered out of the collected rubble. Apparently, this tiny creature flew into the garage, losing it way back to freedom. My heart broke twice during my spring cleaning, as I found a second bird beneath a garage vac. The thought of losing even one of these precious creatures leaves me weepy.

hummingbird in flightI am not alone in my love for hummingbirds. My Veteran scoops the sweet creatures into his hands when they fly into our home. He speaks gently to calm them and releases them outside.

If we love hummingbirds and weep when they are lost, imagine how much more the Creator of all life feels about us, His creation in His image. Whether one believes in His existence or accepts His gift of eternal life, He still cares for us. He offers hope.

“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Luke 12:24

Embattled Families

Returning home from battle, the warrior carries the burdens and grief of the battlefield. Reintegration into family life presses the warrior with hopelessness. Despair erupts, swallowing the family. Soon, family members feel lost or trapped.

There is nothing too great for our Father to handle. He asks us to give Him our burdens. What a great comfort to heap our problems on the God of the universe. When inviting Him into our life, He does not promise our life will be easy but He does promise He will walk with us through our problems—and we will get through them. With Him, PTSD, TBI, or other losses from war become manageable and we become victorious just as our warriors were victorious in battle.

When despair threatens you or your family, envision yourself as the hummingbird cupped in caring hands. Open your heart and invite Jesus in today. He will help you find your way to freedom from despair and hopelessness.

Post your Comments: 

What do you do to bring relief when despair and hopelessness seeps into your life? 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 grandchildren.

(169) Behind the Walls: The Corrosive Nature of PTSD

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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)

Home Flipping 

William loves watching home building shows—flipping, flopping, rehabbing, and fixing. Admittedly, there is something about watching homeowners demolish the ugly with sledgehammers and crowbars that is therapeutic. Of course, in the end, a butterfly emerges from the rubble and homeowners swoon with delight.

During the course of every renovation, the experts find problems—problems that elude visual inspection. Some problems undermine the foundation, others display rot and vermin, and occasionally some require spacesuits and decontamination. While homeowners know the risks of buying a fixer-upper, they express alarm when observing the flaws inside walls and beneath concrete foundations.

PTSD Lurks Behind Walls 

My Veterans stands tall at 6’4”. His once athletic life left a legacy of strength in his shoulders and gait. Discovering he is disabled, people comment, “He looks so normal.” In fact, a family member recently commented, “I never knew he suffered any effects of war. He looked so normal when he returned home.” PTSD is like that. Especially for warriors, who are taught to continue on regardless of personal injury. Don’t show weakness. Be strong. Exude confidence and strength. Put your trauma behind you.

For our warriors returning to civilian life, the military mantra reverberates throughout life even when torn apart inside. As their lives slowly unravel from their war experiences, they deny the symptoms of PTSD. Their hurt seeps deeper out of sight, boring into their core. Without treatment, the pain festers until rupture, as an aged water pipe that bursts without provocation. In a matter of time, the foundation crumbles with damaged relationships, dysfunctional habits, uncontrolled rage, and suicidal thoughts.

Demolishing Walls 

Just as experts help homeowners with their rehab projects, the VA employs experts to work with Veterans on managing PTSD. Effective treatments help Veterans reconstruct their lives after war trauma. In fact, the sooner the expert is invited in to help the Veteran after returning from war, the sooner reconstruction begins. With early help, the less damage PTSD wreaks on Veterans and their families.

I hear from many service members being discharged from duty that the military works proactively in assessing PTSD prior to release. This change in policy speaks boldly for a military that once denied the existence of PTSD and preached “put it behind you.” It gives the Veteran a chance at a normal life after war.

Behind the Walls of the VA 

Even the VA suffers with vermin and rotting foundations, as news stories reveal. Although, from the outside things appeared normal, the past three years of events suggest differently. The agency is riddled with allegations of corruption, wrong doing, incompetence, apathy, mismanagement, and inefficiency. Despite decades of self-promotion as a bulwark of excellence, the image crumbles with reality. Full-scale demolition of the VA began two years ago. With such a large bureaucracy, how long demolition and reconstruction will take remains guesswork.

It took a long time for the VA façade to crumble and for the agency to admit its failings publicly. With that admission, we can only hope that reconstruction will be sound and effective. The lives of our warriors and their families depend on it.

What’s Behind the Walls of Miss Molly’s Façade? 

DSCN2403Inside, outside, upside, and downside, this 125-pound buttercup is nothing but a fluffy fur ball.

Post your Comments: 

What three words would you use to describe your service animal or pet? 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 grandchildren.

(167) Mashed Potato News: For Veterans and Their Caregivers


Molly's new profile picture Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

A lot of news popped up recently about services for Veterans. Molly and I decided to mash it up just like mashed potatoes into a creamy mixture guaranteed to bowl, masher, and potatoestantalize even the most finicky palate. Let’s start with the potatoes, an American staple, and go from there.


Given our mashed potato metaphor, here are the topics that deal with the most basic of services to our Veterans.

Action at the Phoenix Facility. The VA issued a notice of removal to three health care executives at the Phoenix medical facility for issues related to falsification of patient records to conceal long waiting times for treatment. While the personnel removal process is pending, all three were reassigned to non-patient care programs in the VA Phoenix facility rather than on paid administrative leave. A new director to the facility was named in late November 2015. The VA hired 700 full-time employees to increase services to Veterans in Phoenix. Two new facilities are to be added, including a designated dental facility. Click here to read about this news.

VA Serving Women Veterans.  On March 22, between 2-3 pm Eastern Time, the VA hosts a Facebook chat about services offered for female Veterans at #ExploreVAFacebook. The live chat is a co-effort of the VA and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and can be arranged through the VFW Facebook page. Over 500,000 female Veterans already receive VA services. Click here to read the press release and find links for chat registration.

Combat Veterans given Top Priority for Phone Registration for Benefits. The VA now allows combat Veterans to register for medical benefits and VA services by telephone without a paper application, which can be a hassle. The same service will be available to all Veterans on July 5, 2016. The paper application still remains an option, as does the on-line enrollment. Which is the quickest? Reach out and touch—the telephone. Click here for more information or call the Health Eligibility Center Enrollment and Eligibility Division toll free at 1-855-488-8440.

Hepatitis C Treatment. The VA announced that it now funds care for all Veterans with Hepatitis C for fiscal year 2016 regardless of the stage of the patient’s liver disease. Treatment priority focuses on the patients in the worst condition. Funding is made possible this year due to lower costs of the antiviral medication. Over 60,000 Veterans have been cured with this treatment. The VA expects to spend over $1 billion this year on treatment.


One cannot have mashed potatoes without the milk—another staple of life. Here are a few items to add to our dish.

PTSD Mobile Mood Coach. The National Center for PTSD offers a number of tools to help manage PTSD. It just announced the mobile app called “Mood Coach” for iOS and Android. Check out this link for the Mood Coach and other mobile coaches to help with needs such as smoking cessation and TBI.

Community Care Call Center. If you are a Veteran experiencing problems with private physician billing for services received through the VA Choice program, a new call center has opened to assist you toll free at 1-877-881-7618. The VA recently sunk millions into a new billing and payment system to expedite payments to vendors contracted with for outside services. These services offered through the VA Choice Program are intended to get the Veteran connected to the services they need more quickly than waiting for an appointment at VA facilities.

VA Crisis Hotline and General Technology Improvements. The VA announced improvements to the Crisis Call Hotline due to delays in meeting Veterans’ calls for help. Improvements included technology system fixes and hiring of additional staff to handle calls. The VA also issued 21 contracts totaling $22.3 billion to private vendors to provide technology improvements to VA systems, including information technology infrastructure, cyber security, and operations and network management. Yikes, that’s a lot of milk to add to our mashed potatoes. 


butter dishThe final ingredient for our mash up is butter. Without butter, the quality of mashed potatoes just isn’t there. This applies to many of our Veterans, who depend upon their caregivers to ensure their quality of life.

Caregiver Peer Mentoring Program. The VA offers a caregiver support program for family caregivers of disabled Veterans. Recently, the VA announced the Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program. Here is how the VA describes the program. It was “. . . developed to strengthen relationships between Caregivers, to provide an opportunity for networking and to empower Caregivers to help one another. The Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program provides an opportunity for Caregivers to receive guidance and to share their experience, wisdom, skills and passion with other Caregivers.” The VA welcomes both mentors and those desiring to work with a mentor. You can find out more about the program at www.caregiver.va.gov or by calling toll free at 1-855-260-3274.

A Bit of Seasoning 

Mashed potatoes might taste bland without a bit of seasoning so here is one that sparks the taste buds.

PGA Hope Program. Earlier this month, the VA and the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) announced PGA Hope, which is a therapeutic program to aid in the rehabilitation process for disabled Veterans. The program links the Veteran with golf professionals, an introductory golf clinic, and specialized instruction to get the Veteran back into the community and onto the golf course. Visit www.pgareach.com for details or view the VA partnership announcement here.

Miss Molly’s Mash-Up 

Mollys new buddyWhile mashing potatoes, I whipped up a low-fat beef DSCN1296stroganoff for William. Apparently, wafting smells from the beef attracted neighborhood pups. Molly enjoyed mashing it up with these tiny tikes.


Post your Comments: 

Do you have a favorite Veteran or caregiver program you would recommend to others? Please reply below. 

Photo credits belong to the Golly, Miss Molly Blog

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.

(166) Psychedelic High without Drugs: Dog Art

 Molly's new profile picture

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Hallucinating PTSD Medications

Medication for the treatment of PTSD changes frequently with advances in understanding of how the brain works. When PTSD first received an official diagnoses with the revision of the DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), drugs that induced hallucinations topped the list of recommended treatments. Although the television comedy show, Laugh In, described a ‘high’ with swirling bursts of color, the hallucinations induced by PTSD treatment never offered such a lovely kaleidoscope of color. Instead, the hallucinations plopped the Veteran back into battle with warped additions such as crawling bugs, hungry giant ants, and distorted facial features with accompanying pain.

Today, psychiatrists possess a medicine cabinet of improved drugs that don’t send the Veteran back in time to the horrors of war nor make it difficult to distinguish between the present and a disfigured dream world. In fact, new psychiatric medications offer few side effects while short circuiting a rage cycle before even speaking a word or committing an act of aggression. Awesome, indeed.

Miss Molly’s Awesome New Friends

banner dog art

used with permission of www.pleasedrawmydog.com

Last week, Miss Molly and I met new friends in Latvia through a Twitter connection. Please Draw My Dog jumped off my computer screen into my crayon box with promises of a psychedelic high that uplifts and pampers the heart. The Molly Blog Team squealed with joy when we discovered the fanciful artwork the creative Please-Draw-My-Dog Team splashed across its website.

Together, Armands, Zile, and their dog, Olivia, offer drawings of many dog breeds that can be purchased as coloring book pages, prints, stationary, duvet covers, shower curtains, phone cases, throw pillows, and more! This great gift idea ranges in price from $13 for greeting cards to $110 for a duvet cover. How’s that for enterprising? Please Draw My Dog will even draw your dog on commission in the same format for you to color or already filled with colors so bright you will find yourself squinting. Commissioned drawings range in price from $45 for a letter-sized customized coloring page to $260 for an 11.69 x 16.53 inch vibrant color picture of your canine. If you enjoy the adult coloring experience, the website offers free coloring pages of a featured pup each month.


used with permission of www.pleasedrawmydog.com

Miss Molly is especially fond of the on-line collection of drawings of the standard dog breeds. While there are just a few breeds already drawn, Armands and Zile just added the Saint Bernard to the collection in honor of Miss Molly, which they gave permission for us to post in Molly’s Blog! In between their commissioned work, they are making progress on adding 143 more standard dog breeds to their collection, which you can access free of charge.

Why so Much Hype?

Our disabled Veterans don’t often receive good news and this is exceedingly positive even if you don’t want to buy. What a great way to brighten the day of a Veteran by coloring a picture of his or her service dog or special canine pet. With all that said, can you imagine how awesome it would be to wake up every morning to a psychedelic picture of Miss Molly or your favorite dog breed on your duvet or pillow?

High Paw

The Miss Molly Team raises a high paw to Armands, Zile, and Olivia of the Please Draw My Dog Team for their artwork that honors our canine companions in the most delightful way. (Miss Molly always wanted to see her name in lights but seeing her mug in color is even better.)

Post your Comments: 

What object would you like to see your dog’s face on? Please reply below. 

Photo credits: www.pleasedrawmydog.com for the dog art; other pictures 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 granddaughter.

(165) Extravert, Introvert, and Controvert: All Types of People and Dogs

Molly's new profile picture

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

Myers Briggs Type Indicator 

Everyone has a psychological preference that makes up their personality. That preference definition dates back to Carl Jung (1875 to 1961), a psychiatrist influenced by Sigmund Freud. In a brilliant work, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, constructed a personality inventory test to help people know more about their personality and understand how it affects interaction with others.

The first of the preferences refers to how we build our energy and focus our attention by either turning inward or focusing outward. An introvert recharges their battery, spending time alone by reading or engaging in activities by themselves. An extravert recharges their battery by joining with others in parties or gatherings.

In the book, Life Types, Hirsh and Kummerow offer a brief list of other defining characteristics that show the differences between the two preference types (Hirsh, 21):

  Extravert Introvert
External Internal
Outside thrust Inside pull
Blurt it out Keep it in
Breadth Depth
Work more with people and things Work more with idea and thoughts
Interaction Concentration
Action Reflection
Do-think-do Think-do-think

You might wonder where the controvert fits in. Admittedly, I made it up after several days of researching the need for connectedness in today’s world and how isolation can harm people. Controvert refers to an individual, who raises arguments against or voices opposition. When ignoring the need to be connected with others or when failing to recharge our energy, one becomes moody, detached, and negative.

As an introvert, I enjoy being by myself and enjoy solitary activities such as swimming, writing, painting, and sewing. My husband, more of an extravert, loved attending concerts, playing team sports, and parties. As we age and with his PTSD, we are becoming more isolated and disconnected, bordering controver-sion—a dangerous place to be. So, today, we went out for lunch. William wore his new ball cap that announced to the world he is a Vietnam Veteran (–just like an extravert). A recently retired Afghanistan/Iraq Veteran approached William to thank him for his service. Although the interaction was brief, it made my husband’s day and sent him home energized. For me, I stumbled through my Spanish to talk with the workers at Chipotle’s for lunch. Overjoyed that a customer attempted their language, they sent me home with a paper bag written in Spanish for me to read later that night—now I’m recharging and connected.

Why is this Useful? 

For years, I used the Myers Briggs test instrument with my grad students and employees. It helped people work together by showing them their strengths and weaknesses and how to communicate with the 16 different styles. While the original test boasts over 200 questions with a difficult scoring system, there are a number of simpler versions, including a free on-line version at https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. There are a number of books that interpret the test results and share in easy-to-understand terms what they mean. The Hirsh and Kummerow book I referenced above covers how to live, learn, labor, lead, have fun, and love with your particular style. It also offers advice on how to relate to others with different styles in each of those categories.

This is an awesome resource that promises insightful self-help with humor and answers many questions about how to deal with difficult people in your life.

If you already know your style or have used the instrument before, then all you have to do is focus on connectivity and avoid the controversion complex.

Is there a Personality Test for Dogs? 

While I found several tests for canines, I did not find one to determine if Molly is an extravert, introvert, or controvert. Since she hasn’t bitten anyone, I can rule out the controvert. As for extravert or introvert, here is my contribution to the dog whisperer profession.

An Extraverted Dog

An Introverted Dog

Jumps in a pool with other dogs Scratches
Gives slobbering kisses to everyone Licks herself
Barking Whining
Sniffs indiscriminately Sniffs own body parts
Spends free time hanging out at dog parks Spends free time sleeping in the closet
Chases cars Sleeps in closet
Plays with a Frisbee Plays with a bone, sleeps in closet
Barks at bear, reconsiders, barks at bear Sizes up bear, barks, puts tail between legs and hides

Oh, yeah, she’s definitely an introvert. That explains why she asked me about yoga lessons


There is no right or wrong personality profile. Each of the characteristics is descriptive and not intended to be judgmental.

To find a book that interprets and explains test results, go to amazon.com, select books, enter “myers briggs personality test.” You will see titles such as What Type Am I?, Gifts Differing, Please Understand Me, Essentials of Myers-Briggs. An informative website on the test instrument is: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/.

Post your Comments: 

Have you ever taken the Myers Briggs instrument? If you described your service dog or pet by one of the indicator types, what would it be? Please reply below.

Photo credits: pculbrethgraft

Source cited:

  • Hirsh, Sandra and Jean Kummerow. LifeTypes. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989.

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.