There's now a tranquil garden at the VA Medical Center in Orlando

GARDENCOVER
Orlando VA teamed up with the Armed Forces Families Foundation to renovate extra space at the facility into a tranquility garden. Photo credit Department of Veterans Affairs

A new tranquility garden at the Orlando VA Medical Center in Lake Nona, Florida is bringing hopefulness, healing, and recovery to veterans.

Orlando VA teamed up with the Armed Forces Families Foundation to renovate extra space at the facility into a tranquility garden.

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“It’s a space like no other in our facility, and one that I am sure will get a lot of use,” said Director Timothy Cooke in a VA blog post.

The vision for the tranquility garden grew out of an Innovation application and pitch to leadership by Creative Arts Therapist Sheila Johnson.

“Every single detail – from the turf, a special glue utilized to secure the turf, the planters, the organic soil, to even the edible plants inside the planters – has been handpicked by our team to ensure that veterans are not only safe but love hanging out in the tranquility garden while the sun is shining,” she said.

The Veterans Health Administration’s Innovators Network allows employees to test out new ideas and join forces with stakeholders across the veteran community to improve the way the hospital provides care and serves veterans.

“The garden was truly a labor of love for everyone involved,” said Innovation Specialist Kim Bielicki. “Everyone from the Center for Development and Civic Engagement, the Armed Forces Families Foundation, our safety team, engineering, the mental health team, the master gardener, and the current veterans on the unit were involved in the creation of the garden.”

The program also invests in staff by providing them with the training, tools and resources needed to bring about solutions.

Johnson and others hope that the new space will help veterans become more engaged with their care while undergoing mental health treatment.

“The space has really started to become a place where staff and veterans engage in fun activities, like corn hole and yoga,” said Johnson. “We are seeing significant progress in our patients and a faster reintegration and recovery process due to our new ability to bring patients out to the tranquility garden where we can teach them new skills and tools with the whole health approach in mind.”

Johnson hopes to add additional planters, a mural to go through windowpanes, or a new garden screen to the space.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.