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Support the MSU Extension Veterans Therapy Garden Project

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2020 that demand for mental healthcare had drastically increased both over the last 10 years and especially within the last three years. Availability of these services has not increased proportionally and has not been projected to meet or exceed demand past 2025. 

For many military veterans, this disparity in mental health services is often even more pronounced. Finding quality mental health resources can be a critical problem for veterans returning to civilian life. Whether it’s dealing with gaps in the VA healthcare system or financial barriers, too many veterans are unable to access the care they need. The MSU Extension Veterans Therapy Garden Project (VTGP) addresses the unique mental, emotional, and physical healthcare challenges of former military service members by establishing spaces and services which support evidence-based horticulture therapy.  

Give to VTGP and help build Michigan’s first therapy garden for disabled and recovering veterans.

Rendering of the Veterans' Therapy Garden design plansLocated in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the VTGP will allow participants to engage in gardening activities and programming which have been clinically recognized to reduce stress, promote stimulation of the senses, and provide a constructive diversion from symptoms of mental illness. This rendering illustrates the proposed design plans for the completed garden. The space will benefit veterans like Tom Wendt, who currently uses his home garden (featured above in the project header image) as a form of therapy. When built, the Kalamazoo VTGP will offer vets an inclusive, collaborative, and supportive community gathering place.

Gifts to this project will allow us to create an entirely accessible space to help address the needs of military veterans, free of charge. Donations will be used to provide the funding needed to facilitate the construction and expansion of the garden, including:

  • Purchasing building materials 
  • Ensuring the garden meets full ADA compliance standards 
  • Providing plants and necessary garden supplies 
  • Implementing evidence-based educational and therapy programming 
  • Resources for community outreach initiatives, guest speakers, and future expansion efforts  

Currently, there are no evidence-based horticulture therapy programs in Michigan accommodated in a permanent, outdoor location. The Kalamazoo VTGP will serve as a pilot, with the hope of constructing additional therapy gardens to serve veterans in regions across the state of Michigan. 

Who We Are: MSU Extension Veteran Outreach Team 

The Kalamazoo Veterans Garden project is led by MSU Extension District 13 Consumer and Veterans Horticulture Educator Christopher Imler, in coordination with MSU Extension's statewide Veteran Outreach team. In addition, a team of volunteers from MSU Extension Master Gardeners of Southwest Michigan will provide support to ensure the garden is expertly maintained and continues to meet rigorous quality standards upon its completion.

For more information: Contact Christopher Imler, imlerchr@msu.edu, 269-779-8750, or visit MSU Extension's Veterans’ programming website.

Make a Gift by Mail:

University Advancement
Spartan Way
535 Chestnut Road, Room 300
East Lansing, MI 48824

*Make check payable to Michigan State University and write “Appeal 21OOPCF1VTGP” in the note section.

CARES Act

The CARES Act allows taxpayers to take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for those who take the standard deduction. As always, please consult your tax advisor/attorney for advice on your specific situation.

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