FORT HOOD, Texas -- A path leading under a pecan tree, surrounded by benches now provides a serene spot for reflection, meditation and an appreciation of nature at this sprawling Central Texas installation.
Recognizing the value of resiliency for Soldiers, their families and veterans, the Fort Hood Adaptive and Integrative Management program led a volunteer project with Soldiers like Spc. Teddy Bien-Aime, Company B, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, who turned out to dig up some dirt and plant native shrubs.
“It feels good to step out of my comfort zone and my every day workspace to put forth to the community, making Fort Hood even more beautiful,” he said as the project got underway Nov. 18. “It is a great experience.”
The project was made possible with a grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to landscape and beautify an outdoor space.
“The meditative sitting area is a new addition to our native pollinator demonstration garden and grasslands space,” Charlie Plimpton, avian biologist, AIM program, said. “It is an area for the Fort Hood community to come out, be with nature and give your mind a break.”
Plimpton explained that it encourages the community to spend time in nature to enhance the mind, body and spirit, while contributing to the overall mental health and resilience of military personnel and their families.
Capt. Nicholas Jones, Headquarters Company, 1st Medical Brigade, echoed Plimpton’s statement.
“This is a great initiative that aligns with III Corps’ ‘People First’ initiative,” he said. “It’s an excellent opportunity to get after our behavioral health to have a space to unwind, so that we can detach, relax and get to being a strong, functional Soldier in the Army.”
The meditative space is located off of 53rd and Rod and Gun Club Loop. A mulch trail lined with rocks leads visitors under a pecan tree, circled with benches assembled by the volunteers. Visitors can also enjoy the nearby pollinator sanctuary and bird, bee, butterfly and bat garden.
“You’re making other people’s lives better by having this area for them,” Bien-Aime said. “It is handing down and over and over to people who come over here.”
“It’s a great opportunity as a Soldier to interface with our civilian counterparts and continue our service beyond being in the military,” Jones said.
Plimpton expressed his appreciation for the Soldiers volunteering their time to help make the project a success.
“It meant a lot for Soldiers to volunteer their time on this day because the purpose of this project is to provide an area that can enhance Soldiers’ mental wellness and create a deeper connection with nature,” he said.
Signage will be added to the space with more information about the project and tips for how to meditate along with the importance of natives and grasslands.
“Visitors can learn about the importance of public green spaces filled with native plants spread the word to others, and apply it to their everyday lives,” Plimpton said.
To learn more the about Pollinator Sanctuary, citizen science opportunities and the efforts of the AIM team, follow them at facebook.com/Fort.Hood.AIM.Team.