By Justin Creech, Belvoir EagleJuly 12, 2013
Soldiers at Fort Belvoir's Warrior Transition Battalion will soon have another stress-release activity available to them at the Belvoir USO Warrior and Family Care Center.
Healing Gardens are currently being planted at the Care Center and should be available for Soldiers at the WTB in July to help them relax and clear their minds.
"Many of the plants were selected for the population we have in the (WTB)," said Ashy Palliparambil, Family Care Center Hospital Service specialist. "The scents, how they look, those all work together to help servicemembers with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. So, the healing gardens are there to help those servicemembers relieve their stress."
Soldiers will work to maintain the gardens which will provide the stress relief they need.
Horticulture therapy is defined by the American Horticultural Therapy Association as the engagement of a person in gardening activities facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific therapeutic treatment goals. Horticulture therapy helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills and socialization. In vocational horticulture therapy, patients learn to work independently, problem solve and follow directions, according to ahta.org.
The gardens should be completed in July, according to Palliparambil, who added that several programs will start soon after the completion of the gardens.
"When programs start, we will have speakers discuss various plants and their specific therapeutic effects," said Palliparambil. "We'll have opportunities for WTB members to do some gardening with vegetable and herb gardens. We'll incorporate those vegetables and herbs into our minimal cooking classes so they can use what they've grown."
The Center's Healing Garden programs haven't begun, but Palliparambil has already seen the positive effects flowers can have on Soldiers and their Families. The USO works with an organization called Flower Empowered that creates floral arrangements for big events in the area. Flower and Power donates leftover floral arrangements they have from these events to the USO.
"So, what they do is take the flower arrangements left over from their events and bring them to the Center," said Palliparambil. "We distribute them to Soldiers so they could take them to the barracks or give them to loved ones. The Soldiers really seem to like that."
Palliparambil is excited for the gardens to be completed so the Healing Garden programs can begin.
"I'm ecstatic for these programs to start," said Palliparambil. "They are another way for Soldiers to stay active and continue to get better."