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SAN ANTONIO (March 29, 2023) – Growing up in south-central Georgia, Chris Kind developed a relationship with the soil, seeds, and planting. That relationship ebbed and flowed over the years but when he needed that connection the most. Hope For The Warriors and its Warrior’s Wish program were able to rekindled it with the gift of an 11 x 24 greenhouse.
The greenhouse allows Kind and his plants to escape the brutal Texas sun, offering a comfortable environment for Kind to work with the plants year-round. And it will give him the chance to finally begin successfully growing citrus trees, an interest he developed while living in the islands of the Pacific.
The Warrior’s Wish program fulfills a desire for a better quality-of-life beyond recovery or supports a quest for life-gratifying endeavors for those who have sustained severe physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.
Kind, who was in the Army for 12 years, was medically retired in 2008 after being severely injured in a blast during the Iraqi war. He was badly burned, suffered a traumatic brain injury, had several broken bones and was later diagnosed with PTSD.
“In my mind, I thought I was going to die,” Kind says of the blast.
Marcia, Kind’s wife of 27 years, and also an Army veteran, is from the Pohnpei, which is a state within the Federated States of Micronesia, a country comprised of more than 600 islands spread across the western Pacific Ocean. When he left the Army, that’s where they settled and it is where his love for gardening was reborn.
“I grew up gardening with my grandparents. I spent a big chunk of my life with them growing up. I helped them with garden potatoes and corn, harvesting hay,” said Kind, who grew up in Fitzgerald, Georgia. “When we got back to the islands I woke up one morning and my wife’s dad was planting purple potatoes and eggplants and cucumbers. All of a sudden the bug bit me.”
On his next trip to Guam for a medical appointment, Kind went to the PX and bought “$20 worth of seeds and before I knew it I had tons of things and I gave it away to the people in my village.”
Complications from the burns he received forced the family to leave Micronesia to move closer to a burn center for treatment, and that’s how they wound up in San Antonio.
His wife built some raised garden beds for their yard when they moved to San Antonio and Kind couldn’t stay away.
“That’s when the bug got me again. I started going to workshops here. I slowly expanded to zucchini, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, cucumbers … we had more than we could eat.” Kind’s vegetables were soon filling kitchens throughout the neighborhood.
“It felt so good giving things away,” said Kind, who plans on pursuing a master gardener certification. “We go to church on the Army base and my wife and I will come out to the garden on Saturday evenings (to gather vegetables) and then on Sunday morning share them with folks in the fellowship hall.”
As productive as his garden was, Kind still wasn’t able to spend the time and effort he wanted with it. As a result of the burns he received in Iraq, he is unable to remain in the sun for lengthy periods, especially in the intense sun of San Antonio.
Gardening also helps with Kind’s PTSD. His family says it provides him peace and comfort, reduces his depression and improves his overall mood. The Kinds have five children, four grown and one a freshman in high school. Three of their children have served or are serving in the Army and the husband of a fourth is also in the Army.
While year-round outdoor gardening is out of the question for Kind in San Antonio, he figured a greenhouse would solve the problem. He discovered the Warrior’s Wish program and soon completed paperwork for the request, including an essay explaining his need.
The result was the gift of an 11 x 24 greenhouse, including fans, thermostats, and installation with a value of almost $11,000.
While living in Micronesia, Kind began growing citrus trees, which thrived in the climate. “I really got into citrus trees living in the islands,” said Kind.
The San Antonio heat though, is too harsh for citrus trees to be successful, at least outside, along with the many wild deer that he shares his property with. With the greenhouse, Kind will be able to begin growing citrus trees in the controlled environment and plans to plant lime seeds he brought from the islands.
The greenhouse has been up and running for just a few months, but Kind’s plants are beginning to thrive, and so is he.
“We at Hope For The Warriors know the value of pursuing one’s passion in life and how that improves the quality of life for so many of our veterans,” said Robin Kelleher, co-founder and CEO of Hope For The Warriors. “We feel blessed for HOPE to be able to assist Chris with his greenhouse and give him the opportunity to garden year around.”
Since 2006, Hope For The Warriors has provided almost $2.5 million in grants, assisting with 251 wishes. For more information on Hope For The Warriors and Warrior’s Wish program, visit hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
About Hope For The Warriors: Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope for post-9/11 veterans, service members and military families. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served over 53,000 through a variety of support programs focused on health and wellness, sports and recreation and transition. One of the nonprofit’s first programs, Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarships, has awarded 210 scholarships to caregivers and families of the fallen. For more information, visit hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.