When veteran James Petersen, a social worker for the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, noticed empty planting beds at the PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Clinic in Colorado Springs, he knew exactly what to fill them with.
Thus, the "Butterfly Brigade" came to be.
The team filled the planters with soil, perennial and annual flowers, and milkweed — the only food monarch caterpillars eat.
“The monarch butterfly is endangered, declining almost 90% over the past 20 years,” Petersen said. The garden now is an official monarch butterfly migration pathway station.
And the veterans can get as much help from the garden as the monarch butterflies can.
When Petersen returned from five years of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan he found therapeutic value in gardening. Now, he hopes other veterans can find the same relief through the butterfly garden.
“This garden will do our part for conservation. It will also create a therapeutic place for Veterans to hang out,” he said. “They will appreciate the symbolism of transformation and metamorphosis. Especially those who are dealing with traumatic histories.”