Green Valor is an organization that combines two unlikely things. Gardening and veterans. The thought of gardening may conjure up images of Martha Stewart digging around in the garden, but gardening is making waves in the veteran community. “Garden Therapy is gaining in popularity with those who are seeking realistic alternatives to treatment” A navy nurse said.
Green Valor was started by Raymond “Ray” Shinohara, a veteran of the marine corps. Raymond not only started Green Valor but he was also its first client. He had served in combat zones throughout his military career and that left him with scars. Physical, emotional and mental scars that seemed to have no hope of healing. A suicide attempt is what started Raymond down the path to helping others. The path was not easy and let to more than a few failures but after returning to his roots on Guam, Raymond’s project evolved. “Marines are some of the toughest in the world and they don’t go down easy. I survived myself, killing myself.” Raymond said. His story could have ended like so many other combat veterans but he chose to harness his skills and put them toward helping his fellow veterans.
Green Valor, unlike many organizations such as The Wounded Warrior Project or Veterans of Foreign Wars, Green Valor does not accept donations. They instead rely on volunteers who are willing to devote their time. “Sometimes its feeding the homeless or sometimes its finding homeless vets.” A current project that Green Valor is working on replacing needy veteran’s roof and floor most impressive considering that it is being done with only donated materials and time. Raymond believes that everyone has job to do and helping people is his job. Helping connect people to gardening as a way to cope with PTSD and other afflictions has many added bonuses. Learning to grow your own food can save money, and add to your overall health.
The program is unique in the fact that good standing with the armed forces is not required. In order to receive any sort of benefit a veteran must usually have an honorable discharge, but with Green Valor it doesn’t matter. “I don’t care if you have a dishonorable discharge, we will find a way to help you.” Said a member of Green Valor.
One of the most impressive aspects about Green Valor is the speed in which they operate. There are no fancy websites or town hall meetings, there is a WhatsApp group. This instant message service is put to quick and efficient use. Members will message the group if they hear of a vet that needs help, within minutes someone is tasked to retrieve the vet clothes or essentials. The lack of a middle man is Green Valor’s biggest strength, there is no red tape to cut through, no bureaucrats to placate, only the fighting spirit of its members.