Various programs are are being developed to help Veterans connect with nature. A program in the United Kingdom, “‘Gardening Leave”, utilizes nature as a vehicle for various therapeutic modalities. The gardens that have been created provide structure, routine and exercise for former military persons. The Gardening Leave web site indicates that “using the ethos of horticultural therapy, veterans will benefit from improving their social skills by engaging them in conversation and improve their personal skills such as appearance, health and fitness” – www.gardeningleave.org
In the US, the VA Hospitals have been utilizing the benefits of horticultural therapy through a variety of programs. There are green houses where veterans can participate in activities. Raised planters allow many of the veterans with disabilities to participate in a wide range of garden related events. Some VA Hospitals have plant nurseries where the Veterans can grow many of the plants that are installed within the community.
Horticultural Therapists have been developing these and other horticulture programs that provide healing for the Veterans and their family members. Programs include activities for Veterans with Alzheimer’s disease, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), and other illnesses. The horticulture programs are used to help those individuals who are in need of job training or who may be homeless. There is a great need to focus more attention on this subject in order to increase the number of programs in VA communities.