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"Nature heals the heart and soul, and those are things the doctors cannot help. That's what this garden is all about — healing the parts of yourself that the doctors can't." -Deborah Burt

Construction of the Dole VA Memorial Peace Garden located in Wichita, Kansas began in July 2012. The idea for this natural refuge of healing came from Laura Nutter, daughter of Donald Kolar who was a patient at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center. Kolar was an avid gardener, so she thought that the best way to honor him would be to designate a small area on the grounds of the Dole VA Medical Center with flowers that others might be able to enjoy as well. According to Nutter, “His potted annuals and raised bed vegetable gardens were the talk of the neighborhood.” Gardening took Kolar back to his childhood days of working on his family farm and gave him a comforting hobby which shortened the long days of summer. “He was always willing to share his gardening advice with anyone who had an interest and he was often at my front door with the latest crop of cucumbers and tomatoes.” exclaimed Nutter.

When Heidi Barrus RN, BSN was asked how the garden fits into the bigger picture, she responded “It gives back.” She continued, “Our men and women Veterans, along with their families have sacrificed so much to serve our country and protect our freedom, and this garden is a way for us to show our thanks and appreciation. The garden will offer an opportunity for Veterans, their family members, and employees to dig in the dirt, to bury their troubles from the day, and to watch their efforts grow wonderful vegetables and flowers in the raised beds accessible to all.”

All too often, hospitals can appear to be big, cold, scary places- this is just one way we are working to welcome our Veterans home, to know that they are appreciated, to engage them, and ultimately to improve the health and well being of the Veterans that we are honored to serve.

To learn more about the Dole VA Memorial Peace Garden visit:


Written by Stephen Doyle — November 12, 2012

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