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Seattle students create 'healing garden' for veterans

A dull empty space outside Puget Sound VA’s emergency room has been transformed into a serene space for sitting.

It flows with stylized metal railings, sculptures and mahogany seating. Native plants fill the beds and a water feature provides a peaceful soundtrack.

Jack Kegley, a marine veteran who served two years in Vietnam, takes it all in.

He was just released from the hospital after two weeks of intensive care and visits the VA once a week.

"I am just overwhelmed at how fulfilling it is and how relaxing. I can just come out here and sit. And it’s designed so that even though there’s plants out here you can run your wheelchair up. I love it. It's an absolute triumph," Kegley said.

This garden is a public private partnership that took years to forge. Kegley is also a board member of Veterans and Friends of Puget Sound, one of the groups that helped raise $85,000 for UW landscape architecture students to build it. 

“The nice part about it is it’s a template. So that we can go to every other VA hospital every other VA facility and say, 'Look if you let us work with you, it doesn’t have to cost you anything. If you let us work with you then we can do things like this,'" Kegley said.

VA hospitals can feel so institutional, he says, this place is a chance to take a moment in a sacred space, to reflect and be at peace.