In 2014, VA volunteers Michelle Schatzman and Gary Schinnick presented the idea of creating a healing garden at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center to be used by veterans and their families to spend time visiting without being in a hospital setting.
The volunteers put their heart and soul into this project and began partnering with the Ross County Veterans Council, along with Veterans in Transition Inc., to begin this ambitious journey.
Research shows that any garden is healing. However, to be defined as such, “a healing garden should give a sense of restoration from stress and have other positive influences on visitors and include nature such as plants and/or water features.” — Cooper-Marcus and Barnes, 1999
A study in 1998 noted that landscape can be restorative. Healing gardens work to decrease the negative emotions by holding a person’s attention and allowing them to block out stress inducing thoughts (Ulrich, 1981). Ulrich also noted that patients who have views of nature often experience significantly less post-operative stays and fewer negative comments when compared to those with views of only walls.
The features and the designs of the hospital gardens have importance in the treatment process of the patients spiritually, physically and socially. Well-designed healing hospital gardens form a social atmosphere through saving the patients from the monotony that the clinic environment has and positively affect the clinical results of the patients through reducing stress, thus they enable patients to feel themselves good psychologically and physiologically (Duzenli et. al, 2017).
With the vision of bringing this peaceful relaxing atmosphere to veterans and their families, the healing garden was dedicated on May 17, 2019. Over the course of five years, many local business and organizations donated funding toward the project as well as physical labor, providing labor such as constructing the gazebo, building benches, mulching, laying pavers and holding special events to raise funds.
On behalf of the veterans served by the Chillicothe VA, the medical center would like to thank the following for their support.
· State of Ohio Attorney General Grant
· South Central Power Company Foundation
· David Mead Massie Trust
· The Columbus Foundation
· Rolling Thunder Inc. Chapter 3
· Rolling Thunder Inc. Chapter 9
· Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center
· Sons of American Legion
· American Legion Post 532
· Veterans of Foreign War Post 3426
· Seely’s Landscape Nursery
· Lowe’s # 0472
· Veterans in Transition, Inc.
· Ross County Veteran’s Council
· Tow Path Ready-Mix
· Unilock Pavers
· Snyder Transportation Services LLC
· Arselli’s Landscape
· Ross Correctional Institute (RCI)
· Alvis House
· VAEA Garden Club
· VA’s Engineering Department
Michelle Schatzman, a longtime VA volunteer, said the garden not only helps veterans, but serves as a catalyst to bring the community together as well.
“We’ve had students out here, community volunteers who have helped with the project, and it’s raised local awareness about veterans’ needs and the services they receive here,” Schatzman said. “This project wasn’t just about building something beautiful, it’s about building something that’s useful, something that gives back.”
To learn more about becoming a volunteer at the Chillicothe VA, contact Voluntary Service at 740-773-1141, ext. 7420.
If you or someone you know is a veteran and they are not enrolled for care at the VA, the medical center at 740-773-1141, extensions 7772 or 6769, or go to www.va.gov . For more information about programs and services at the Chillicothe VA as well as veteran activities and events, like the medical center’s Facebook page or follow it on Twitter.
Submitted by Stacia Ruby, public affairs officer, Chillicothe VA Medical Center.