Social worker helps make Veteran’s final dream come true

As a little girl, she dreamt of Hawaii as she paged through her parents’ photo albums and heard the story of how they first met. As a woman, she day dreamt of sandy beaches and a tropical paradise as her plane flew over Oahu en route to Taiwan. But, at age 60, Rebecca Golden was diagnosed with lung cancer and given a prognosis of less than 12 months to live. Her dream appeared as if it would only be that: a dream.

With the help of one of Phoenix VA’s many unsung heroes, Golden, a seven-year U.S. Air Force Veteran, would realize her Dream.

Lisa Terry, an oncology social worker, approached Golden about Dream Foundation’s “Dreams for Veterans” program.

“They are a dream-granting foundation for adults with terminal illness, and have a special program for Veterans to grant them an end-of-life Dreams,” Terry said. “It’s a wonderful program that provides a lot of hope and inspiration for Veterans at the most difficult time in their life.”

Golden became the third Veteran Terry helped to realize a lifelong Dream. Terry volunteered for a national training certification so she could help Veterans with the foundation’s application process, but she said any VA social worker can refer a Veteran to the program. The only qualifications for the Veteran are that they have a prognosis of 12 months or less to live and they lack the resources to fulfill the Dream on their own.

Some Veterans who qualify for the program have reservations about receiving an end-of-life Dream because they feel they’re taking from fellow Veterans. “It’s important for Veterans to know they wouldn’t be taking a seat from another Veteran,” Terry said. “The program is for everyone, and there is plenty to go around. It’s fabulous to be able to refer the program.”