635646931319099161-veterans-administration-logoAssuming the VA makes good on its promises, August will be the month construction begins on the greenhouse. Having waited almost five years, five more months seems like a heartbeat away. Tuesday last, I met with my old Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist to go over the program’s objectives. As an aside, I wish to comment on the definition of ‘rehabilitation’ and VA’s interpretation of it. 

To VA, and more explicitly, VR&E, the term ‘rehabilitation’ is a borrowed term from occupational therapy. In their context, it connotes a successful path to a new physical plane of existence. Were you to be granted a riding lawn mower, rehabilitation would mean you had mastered the transmission and throttle and were not in danger of navigating off a steep precipice on your property. You would accomplish this by going through the paces under the watchful eye of your assigned Voc. Rehab. Counselor. It might require as much as sixty days and several visits to confirm you were cutting the grass at the proper height and actually using the machine for the purpose intended. Knowing Veterans’ propensity to drink and imbibe drugs, the Counselor has to make sure you are not using it as a substitute for a ‘mobility device’ to get to the local bar. Apparently VA has caught more than one Vet with a suspended driver’s license doing this. Being easier to ride than say, a bicycle, and more forgiving, it has the potential for applications for which it was never intended. This may be why they are being denied more frequently these days.

When I prevailed with my request for a computer, I was assigned a private voc. rehab specialist in computers. My guru, Jim Moss, was very pleasant and actually planned for my future computer needs. Many may laugh and say “Dude. You got a Dell.” After four years, the machine is still a powerhouse simply because he had the foresight to give me a massive hard drive and a handful of thumbdrives that boost it into the 40 gig range. I have no desire to install Windows 10 and start over on software. It’s taken almost that long to master the intricacies of my Adobe 9 Pro.

In respect to a greenhouse, it appears my current VA-employed Voc rehab guys will want to be my mentors. Even though they are clueless as to which end of a garden hose to attach to the spigot, they know the value of free vegetables. The IL Plan calls for him/them to visit monthly to make sure I’m watering the plants properly. It says as much in the Individual Independent Living Plan (IILP). I have to stand and deliver my fruit and seasonal veggies as well as show I’m planting regularly.

As I mentioned in the radio show yesterday ( April 14th, 2016), the preliminaries are all but over. VA has decided to accept an old (August 1, 2014) occupational therapy assessment (private) as adequate for their requirements. This will speed up the eventual beginning of a construction date. VA is not one to rush into these things. You or I could call Farmtek and have this puppy up and running by late May. VA insists on a medical evaluation, a psychological assessment, a GSA assessment, another whizbang who will make sure the handle on the hosebib is ergonomically agreeable to my wrist strength, et cetera.

I can almost imagine what ensues when these ILP weenies come in to install grab bars and give you can grabbers.

“Okay, Johnny. Can you demonstrate how to properly hold that grab bar to avoid falling? Good. That’s good. Now, would you demonstrate the proper use of your can grabber on the can of Bush’s baked beans up there? Now be careful not to stand directly under it when retrieving the can on the off chance the can parts company with the grabber. Excellent. Now, let’s move on to the socks puller uppers. Shall we?” Keep in mind this takes several visits on a monthly basis to ensure the rehabilitation is successful. In theory, you could master the mysteries of a cordless phone in as little as six months.

My rehabilitation for the computer was several years and I called Jim periodically with questions as necessary. VA paid Jim mass quantities of $ for his services. The computer bill for all the goodies was about $1400. Jim’s bill was about thrice that.

I look forward to being rehabilitated. In fact, I was perfectly frank with Mr. Holloway when I said I didn’t think I could master the intricacies of hydroponics in 60 days. I suggested two years because I didn’t just dock on the USS Mayflower last night. Having learned a painful lesson, I have discovered VA is on the hook for all the peripherals. Thus I missed out on all the printer ink and paper for my printer for several years. In gardening, and more so in a heated greenhouse, VA is required to pick up the tab for the propane heating and the electricity. Two years of propane alone at 3 gallons a day @ $2.30 a gallon from October to early May is a sizable amount of money. You can see VA’s desire to rehabilitate me in as short a period of time as possible. What’s amusing is that they spend almost five years saying my gardening assets were adequate and now are required to don sack cloth and anoint themselves with ashes, all the while agreeing that what I desire is readily obtainable, necessary and long overdue.

still-saving-private-ryan05Cupcake’s dad, who was in the first wave ashore at Omaha Beach in 1944, passed in June 2010. He went from a corporal to a Second Lieutenant in 90 minutes. I was faced with much the same when he passed. I had no knowledge or training in horticulture and had to learn it from scratch that spring. In spite of my relative agnostic religious affiliations, it often felt her dad was guiding my hands. Of course it could have been all that Dilaudid pain medication too. Back then VA was handing it out like Halloween candy in Tomah, Wisconsin. I’ve never had a physician say “Here’s 218 hits a month. If it’s not enough, call me.”  I was having a hard time finding my zipper fast enough to pee after eating two of them puppies.

Nevertheless, I am now a Jedi Knight gardener. With the greenhouse, I will become a Master. The thoughts of all the past years working in dirt will fade. Someday I’ll look back and think of it fondly as the era before plow mules. No one can dispute that there is an inherent fondness among farmers for running your hands through rich loam and composted horseshit. I will keep half the garden in dirt just to do corn as I can never conceive of that as a hydroponic endeavor.

Here’s to the last summer in the sun. I aim to enjoy every moment of it. We have also preserved fond memories of it annually here in posts on ILP

photo 3 (1)

The Tactical Operations Center (TOC)

The old greenhouse

The old greenhouse

photo 1

photo 2

The future greenhouse site

The future greenhouse site. I didn’t think old Shadow (12) would live to see it. Or me, for that matter.

There are so many of you I’d like to thank for your help over the years. Moving dirt is a dicey proposition when you have no abdominal musculature to mention. In addition, to learn far more about all this, please visit our sister site at and check out the podcast we did yesterday on this subject.

An ILP program in your future is much closer than you think. In 2011, I dreamed big. For five years I cherished that dream and fertilized it with NODs and VA 9s. It will all now come to fruition because I persevered. You can too.

In memory of Paul Burch’s passing recently, we’ll be planting Silver Queen again this year.


About asknod

VA claims blogger
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