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How Gardening (and other Complementary Therapies) Help Veterans | Health

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How Gardening (and other Complementary Therapies) Help Veterans
How Gardening (and other Complementary Therapies) Help Veterans

Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness delivers a variety of complementary therapies in their free combat stress recovery programs


According to research published in the journal Psychiatry Investigation, engaging in horticulture therapy (gardening) helps reduce pain, improves attention, reduces stress and agitation, and lowers the usage of medications. Additionally, the University of Florida reports that horticulture therapy improves bodies, minds, and spirits, and has been used for centuries. For all of these reasons, horticulture is one of the complementary alternative therapies that is being used to help the many combat veterans suffering from such conditions as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and physical injuries.

“Most combat veterans don’t think about gardening as a tool to help them heal, yet it does a lot to help the mindset,” explains Ken Falke, chairman and founder of Boulder Crest Retreat. “Horticulture therapy has a prominent place in our programs because we know that it helps and it’s something that our guests can take home with them to continue their healing process.”

Horticulture therapy, includes the growing of plants and gardening, is centuries old and is a great way of helping to reduce stress and improve mental state. The University of Florida reports that even in 1798, Dr. Benjamin Rush, who also signed the Declaration of Independence, reported that mentally ill patients made improvement through the use of gardening.

At Boulder Crest Retreat, military combat veterans and their family members, engage in gardening exercises as part of their stays. The retreat offers combat veterans and their families the opportunity to stay free of charge for a 2-7 nights at the 37-acre retreat.  Gardening is one of the therapies offered. Others therapies include art, music, meditation, yoga, equine therapy, and various recreational therapies to include archery and kayaking. Combined, all of these modalities make up the full program.

“When we created our program we considered a lot of different modalities,” added Falke. “Adding gardening in our beautiful rural outdoor setting just made sense. It slows people down, gives them something to tend to, and provides many benefits that we all need.”

The Retreat welcomes combat-veterans who are active-duty, reserve and National Guard, veterans, family members and caregivers, and Gold Star Families. Boulder Crest Retreat is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by private donations by individuals and organizations from around the country. For more information about the retreat, please go to www.bouldercrestretreat.org. View a video about the Boulder Crest Retreat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KztgmScOQLw.


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