HAMPTON, Va. --
her weekly meetings and tasks, Jamie Reed takes moments to stare at the foliage
outside her office window and looks forward to
the one day of the month when she can get her hands dirty working alongside
service members and civilians to take care of garden plots at the Hampton
Veteran Affairs Medical Center’s horticultural therapy garden.
Langley-Eustis, Va., community members devote their time to maintaining the
therapy gardens, as well as spending time cultivating relationships with
veterans who use the gardens as a therapeutic source.
to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, this therapy has been proven
as an effective treatment for a broad range of rehabilitative services for
mental illnesses. The therapeutic approach of engaging in plant-based
activities facilitated by a trained therapist can be used to assist
participants in improving cognitive abilities, coordination, endurance and
problem solving skills.
gardens are designed to help the veterans by associating treatment with the
soothing elements of nature. The plants are typically selected based on color,
texture and fragrance to stimulate a healing response.
therapists and volunteers can all benefit from the calming and healing effects
of working in the garden,” said Reed, American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces manager. “This activity is a great outlet for these
men and women who have struggled, and it gives them a new hobby to put their
mind at ease. Having the service members interacting with them and providing
companionship during their healing process is just the added bonus.”
their once-a-month visits, the JBLE volunteers assist with maintaining the
garden and interacting with the veterans by rebuilding structures, laying mulch
and picking weeds. Reed feels it is a group effort to keep the therapy garden
available for the veterans, and the JBLE volunteers are a huge asset to the
Force Staff Sgt. Cory, 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
Group standards and evaluations management NCO in charge, expressed that it is
important to give back to the veterans, who helped form the military that he serves
had the chance to talk to several veterans while volunteering and hear their
stories first-hand of how the military used to be,” said Cory. “It helps me see
that we are heading in the right direction and it’s because of the veterans who
have pushed for positive changes for their predecessors’ benefit.”
to encourage JBLE members to volunteer and help positively impact veterans with
activities such as the therapeutic gardens.
the horticultural therapy garden, the Hampton VA Medical Center offers equine
therapy, special holiday events for veterans and is always seeking volunteers
to assist in event productions.
is a fun way for all members of the community to support our veterans,” said Reed.
“These interactions are beneficial for all involved, and above all, has a
positive impact on the veteran’s treatment.”