After serving their country, veteran volunteers find ways to serve their community
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) —
Our Persons of the Week are collaborators on a source of healing.
Volunteers from Kairos West, Master Gardeners, and Soul & Soil were joined recently by 30 veterans who desperately want to give back.
The healing garden is outside the Kairos West Community Center. This place intended to help people find peace was primarily cultivated by those impacted by the reality of war.
"I have a service-related traumatic brain injury, PTSD," said John Mazur, one of the original members of Veteran X.
The group of volunteers who served our country now want to serve the community.
"We're all about giving back now," Mazur said. "We're all about learning to integrate with people. Last thing we want is veterans sitting home on the couch."
Together, they planted the garden at 604 Haywood Road that's open to the public.
"We kind of built this fence to build a sanctuary space off this busy intersection," said Alina Mockingbird of Soul and Soil, which is a local non-profit. They rolled up their sleeves for a grassroots effort.
"It's a food garden. There's herbs, flowers, a great place to hang out and build community," she said.
This Gratitude Day Project put vets alongside civilian volunteers.
"All of this was grass," said Mike Dumaine, who's a peer specialist at the Charles George VA Medical Center. "They've moved plants. It's been a just great effort today. "
"They had a vision for this side yard, and we believed the Veteran X group could come in and help them achieve that vision," he said.
"Many hands make light work. This was all transformed in a day. I'm super thrilled by that," Mockingbird said.
Often, when you dig deeper, there's more to the story just beneath the surface.
"It's very emotional what's going on here," Dumaine explained. "These folks are taking a step that many of them have never taken before, in figuring out what it feels like to being part of the community again."
"A byproduct for me and a lot of veterans is giving back, and it makes you feel good inside," Mazur added.
Working together, they can all be proud of a mission accomplished.
"I don't think there's anyone better at being selfless than veterans," Dumaine said.