Today, we celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good of our nation.
We are proud to have a program to support veterans, which was started in honor of a veteran. NAMI WLA Board member Shirley Kirby made a generous donation to the affiliate in honor of her brother, U.S. Air Force Sergeant Richard Dale Luehring. Her kind gift led to the creation of the Richard Luehring Healing Garden at The Big Heart Ranch in Malibu. In May 2019, NAMI WLA honored Shirley Kirby’s advocacy and commitment to providing mental health resources for our military veterans.
The project was also created with the leadership of a veteran: Randy Ryan, a U.S. Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps veteran and farmer, led a team of volunteers over many weeks to build and grow the Healing Garden at the Big Heart Ranch. He engaged Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops, local community and corporate sponsors, Starbuck employees, and other military volunteers for the garden installation. It now serves as a healing sensory experience for military veterans and other visitors. By providing a connection with animals and nature, it can help reduce stress and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Our affiliate is currently taking concrete steps to engage our veteran community, while launching several mental health initiatives to support them.
We also encourage those impacted by mental health to consider our Westside LA support groups and for military families to look into NAMI’s free Homefront program for families, caregivers and friends of military service members and veterans with mental health conditions.