One Monday morning in July, 11 Veteran residents at the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center gathered to remember the good ol’ days.

The Veterans, most of whom suffer from mild to moderate cognitive deficits, were participating in the Community Living Center’s Memory Club.

Memory Club is a weekly reminiscence therapy group facilitated by Dr. Kayla Spengler, clinical geropsychologist, and Allison Floyd, speech-language pathologist.

Dr. Kayla Spengler (left) and Allison Floyd, facilitators of the Memory Club.

The group guides and engages Veterans in conversation and activities that increase their social interactions, communication, mood and self-esteem.

“We started this group to help improve our residents’ overall quality of life,” said Dr. Spengler. “Since it may be difficult for some of our residents to form new memories, it can be quite relaxing and rewarding to reflect on memories from their past that have been preserved. This group helps them maintain their own personal identity and build connections with their fellow Veterans.”

Each week the group discusses a different topic, such as childhood memories, gardening, the current holiday, and more, to help them recall things they may have forgotten.

“The response is amazing.”

On this Monday, the group reminisced about the history of soda pop. Quickly the Veterans started chiming in with their favorite type of soda.

As Dr. Spengler and Floyd progressed through the history of soda, each Veteran added their own unique history about the drinks. One Veteran was very knowledgeable of soda’s history and was able to recall many tidbits of information.

“The response and engagement from our Veterans is amazing and we keep growing,” said Floyd. “We now have so many Veterans participating we need to find a bigger meeting space.”

For information on VA nursing homes, assisted living and home health care:

By Matthew Bell is an Army Veteran and public affairs specialist at the Columbia VA Health Care System

Share this story

Published on Aug. 1, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

Views to date: 168


  1. Karen August 10, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    This sounds like a great group. Would love for my husband to be involved. Is there any way this could be offered online?

  2. Rebecca Wyrwas August 3, 2021 at 9:11 am

    The veterans and staff may participate only if they have negative COVID19 testing, which is conducted frequently each week. The veterans are placed at safe distances in an open area. The staff uses a small FM amplification system to ensure all can participate well.

  3. ray womack August 1, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    Sounds like an opportunity to Zoom meet.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Innovation revolutionary: Entrepreneur in Residence Dr. Priya Joshi works to develop a more equitable process in treating and identifying Veterans with kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes.

  • Houston VA has performed more than 160 head and neck free flap reconstructive surgeries since the program was developed in 2017.

  • Chronic pain interferes with women Veterans’ daily lives. Talk to your VA provider about an individualized pain management plan.