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Westover Airmen support mental health program at Robins AFB

U.S. Air Force Airmen from Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, receive landscaping instructions for the HOPE Garden project at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, August 8, 2020. The HOPE project is designed to help military members and veterans suffering from depression, suicidal ideations and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through horticulture and reflection in a calm environment. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, work in the HOPE Garden at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, August 8, 2020. The HOPE project started in response to the suicide rate in the United States Armed Forces. (Courtesy photo)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

A group of Westover Airmen stepped up to serve their fellow military members while on temporary duty at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, on August 8, 2020.

While staying at the dorms, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kimberly Kopp, 58th Aerial Port Squadron First Sgt., saw people working the grounds around the buildings.

“In the middle of the dorm courtyard, there is a large garden area full of benches, a gazebo, lots of d├ęcor and it is a very calm peaceful area,” Kopp said. “I noticed a woman out there weeding and cleaning this overgrown area and it sparked my interest.”

Kopp spoke with Donna Hunt, the HOPE Garden project coordinator, and found she only had around ten volunteers to work on a garden the size of a football field.

HOPE stands for Help is available; Opportunity exists; People care; Expect good things.

The project started in response to the high suicide rate in the United States Armed Forces and aims to reinforce the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

Hunt told Kopp the HOPE Garden, formerly known as the Camellia Memorial Garden, was behind schedule for its September 2020 inauguration.

Kopp sent a message to the rest of the Westover group and three quarters of them showed up to help.

“In just one day, they were able to do what it would have taken months for Mrs. Hunt and her few volunteers to do,” she said.

Kopp said the project resonated with the group, and they continued to show up throughout their stay at Robins AFB.

“This hit home for us because depression and mental health, it affects a lot of our airmen,” she said.

The program is designed to help military members and veterans suffering from depression, suicidal ideations and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through horticulture and reflection in a calm environment.

For more information about the HOPE campaign, visit https://www.robins.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2211155/hope-campaign-focuses-on-resilience/