Johnny Cash chillin in the Community Living Center.
By Artaymis Maat Carter and Public Affairs Office
Thursday, December 29, 2011
To many, an animal can have a profound healing effect. Take for instance our two extraordinary kitty cats, Johnny Cash and Charlee Girl, who make their home in our Community Living Center (CLC). They love unconditionally, cheer Veterans up when they are down and give a new meaning to gratitude. And they’re really a cool couple of cats who know their way around the VA with ID badges to prove it.
“Yep, Johnny, checks out everything,” said Recreation Therapist, Cathy Roy. “He makes his security rounds and rides the elevators to each floor. He also knows how to jump up and set the electronic eye. He taught himself that.”
Besides being curious and adventurous, Johnny Cash is a guardian angel for our Veterans.
“He sleeps where he wants,” laughed Roy. “Sometimes the residents come up to me and exclaim, ‘Johnny’s sleeping in my bed!’ They get really excited about it.”
A while back, one Veteran resident really took a liking to Johnny. They became very close. Johnny would make the rounds rolling around in his wheelchair. They did this for years, then, sadly for Johnny, the Veteran passed away. Johnny would often sit by his door waiting for him. He began sleeping in the Veteran’s chair, until he finally realized he wasn’t coming back. That’s what you call dedication. Or maybe Johnny is just giving back the love he has received from Veterans after all these years.
“We got Johnny Cash by way of a veterinarian's office,” added Tracie Rushing, a Registered Nurse in the CLC. “He got hit with a weed eater and someone dropped him off at the vet’s office. They heard that we wanted a cat, so they gave him to us.”
If having one cat snuggle up with Veterans is cool, then having two of them is even better. Enter: Charlee Girl.
“When Charlee Girl first came to the V.A.,” said Becky Parker, Program Support Assistant in the CLC. “She let Johnny know right away that she was in charge. He would check her out, keep his distance. But then, they became friends and started to care for one another. That’s when the cuddling and grooming began.”
When visiting the CLC on the first floor of the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our two wonderful felines, Johnny Cash and Charlee Girl. But remember, they are family; so when you leave, please be careful to read the sign:
Thank you for visiting our Community Living Center.
As you exit, please make sure our cat, Johnny Cash isn’t behind you!
Recognized in 2011 as one of the “Top Performing” hospitals by the Joint Commission, the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center serves over 44,000 Mississippi Veterans and logged over 430,000 outpatient visits in FY 2011. For the latest news and information about the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, visit www.jackson.va.gov.