Feel-Good Friday: Lowe's Builds a Raised Therapy Garden for a Veteran Transitional Home

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

As some of you know, I’m in between permanent housing. One of the things I do to stay sane is to garden, and I truly miss it. I don’t consider myself a good one by a long shot, but I have had moderate success growing tomatoes and making succulents thrive. I think it’s the connection to the earth that helps to ground me and gives me the perspective that in the grand scheme of things, I am just a speck. Being outside and playing in dirt has always been a favorite thing since I was little, so I also get to tap into my inner child!

So, imagine my delight when I read this story that is absolutely perfect for Feel-Good Friday.

From WRKR in Kalamazoo, MI:

A team from Lowe’s in Portage will be building eight raised-bed garden boxes and installing fencing, constructing a therapy garden for the homeless veterans living at Keystone Veteran Transitional House on Stockbridge Avenue. The Lowe’s manager, Jim Merkle, is a Marine Corp veteran himself who helped design the garden, and is leading the effort.

“A lot of the Vets enjoy gardening; it’s truly therapeutic during a very stressful time in their lives,” says Tyrone Thrash, the Housing Coordinator for the Keystone Veteran Transitional House.

Here’s a little background: The Keystone Veteran Transitional House is a 12-bed shelter for homeless military service veterans in Kalamazoo. Integrated Services of Kalamazoo opened Keystone Veteran Transitional House in the summer of last year. What Integrated Services does is connect these veterans with resources, like housing and also health care with the Battle Creek VA.

A lot of this relates to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). ISK’s Veteran Navigator Juan Gonzalez says experience shows horticultural therapy can help veterans.

Movity documented the shocking and sad statistics on veterans and homelessness:

  • There are currently 37,085 homeless veterans
  • For every 1,000 veterans: eight are homeless
  • 45 percent of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness
  • 1.4 million veterans are at risk of becoming homeless
  • 91 percent of homeless veterans are male
  • The state of California accounts for 29 percent of all homeless veterans
  • 50 percent of veterans are over 51 years of age
  • More than one in 10 veterans are diagnosed with substance abuse disorders
  • There are currently more than 78 communities providing homeless veterans with temporary housing.

Keystone is one of those communities who care for the brave men and women who served and fought for our freedoms. With the addition of this therapy garden, the organization can continue to help our veterans heal, find wholeness, and stable ground.

Veteran Navigator Gonzalez also said that “horticultural therapy” can help with mental illness by mitigating PTSD, assuaging the effects of traumatic brain injury, and the depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders that result from both conditions.

I can attest to gardening being a real mood lifter, and with the combination of fresh air, Vitamin D, and movement, it assists in keeping you healthy too.

What an awesome blessing that these struggling veterans are being gifted with this—right in time for Veteran’s Day!