(174) Old Friends: A VA Meet Up

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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)


Reunited One-Half Century Later 

Colorado Springs VA FacilityAnxiety filters throughout the waiting rooms, spanning three floors. Discomfort with another visit to the VA Clinic ripples across a sea of faces. Not an easy task, Veterans fought the stress of dealing with their war-related issues and showed up for another day of doctor appointments. Today, however, my Veteran and I witnessed a reunion, which caught the attention of every Veteran within earshot. Slumping shoulders ceased and every set of eyes focused in glee, as two Veterans embraced after 46 years.

While William waited for his doctor, he spoke with a Vietnam Veteran a few years his senior. Finding out they served near one another in Vietnam one year apart, they spoke of difficulties encountered when returning from war and the ensuing years. As they talked, a man approached softly, interrupting the hushed tones of William and the man he just met.

We marveled at what the two friends revealed over the next 30 minutes in their 46-year reunion. After having last seen each other when serving in Vietnam and then assigned to Germany in 1970, they lost touch. In the intervening years, man-come-softly reached out to the men he served with, finding several other Veterans in his city. In his investigation, he found one comrade-in-arms who lived just blocks from him for 18 years and never realized it until four years after the man died. That set him on an urgent mission to connect with other comrades in his town.

The reunion we witnessed began with an embrace and continued after each man’s doctor visit. The entire episode transformed a waiting room from anxiety to excited anticipated as the story of two men’s lives unraveled. Their initial eye contact flashed recognition from a faded memory. Then, a spark lit. No doubt existed in either man’s face that they had served together in a wicked war nearly one-half century earlier. They spoke without hesitation, sharing as though they woke this morning in the barracks together. Filled with smiles and a knowing nod, two long-lost buddies emerged from war nearly 50 years later in a seamless friendship and a shared purpose in life.

A Mother and Her Veteran Daughter

For me, the day’s highlights included meeting the mother of a female Veteran with her service dog. We talked about the therapeutic value of service animals and how it changed the Veteran’s life. An encouraging story, her daughter displays strength by reaching out for help. She added her voice and value to a unique dynamic that could only unveil itself in the waiting room of a VA Clinic—the place to go for a meet up.

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Have you experienced a meet-up at a VA clinic or facility that brightened your day? 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.