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Warriors Grow Hope in Life’s Garden

A sprout quietly bursts through the earth, absorbing its first taste of direct sunlight. Similarly, injured veterans grew to find healing through a therapeutic horticulture class at Cape Fear Botanical Garden with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).

“This was very relaxing and calming,” said Army veteran James Martin. “It was a great way to get out of my shell and build camaraderie through mutual interest. It also presents a new skill that I can take home. Being able to work with and grow this new skill at home is a great memory of this class.”

Warriors often face a challenging transition to civilian life as they learn how to live with their wounds — both visible and invisible. Opportunities like this horticulture class help veterans learn how to cope while providing a supportive community of others who know what they’re going through.

Learn more about how WWP events empower warriors on their journeys to recovery.

The class was adapted to warriors’ conditions, abilities, needs, and goals. It offered gardening practices through adaptable hands-on activities designed to heal, inspire, and restore. This class can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness because it helps warriors relax.

“Understanding a plant’s resilience, how they are affected by changing conditions, and the impact of nurturing can have profound comparisons to things that have happened in our own lifetime,” said Amy Stidham, Cape Fear Botanical Garden therapeutic horticulture program manager.

Amy said many veterans tell her it is hard to find “normal,” especially when things keep changing. Growing plants can give warriors a little control over their lives.

“I found that, like seedlings, my mental health needs to be attended to and given all the essentials to grow and become strong and healthy,” said Army veteran Anthony Davis. “Sometimes things are not always nice above the surface, and sometimes the roots can be the underlying issues. So don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and weed out the bad interfering with your progress.”

Veterans learned how to create raised beds, support structures, and garden art. They also learned how to grow, tend, and nurture plants and prepare healthy foods from their harvest. In addition, they discussed shared experiences and inspirations through garden walks and journaling.

“When the night terrors and negativity of headaches arrive, I can think about a positive experience that I have participated in, like this event,” said Air Force veteran John Goubeaux. “I just have to trust in the fact that I have the ability to refocus my thoughts to a positive time that also helped others.”

Amy taught warriors responsible and beneficial ways to improve their environment by practicing in their own backyard. They focused on the best ways to care for plants and encourage a natural balance in the garden.

Learning skills through classes like this can positively affect multiple areas in veterans’ lives, including personal well-being and home life.

“This provides another way to connect as a family because I can pass these skills to my children,” James said. “I can focus on my family and myself with a positive mindset.”

Contact: Rachel Bolles — Public Relations,, 904.646.6941

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.


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