The veterans home in Pocatello broke ground on a new putting green on Wednesday.
With donations from the Idaho Veterans Assistance League and the Blackfoot Elks Lodge, the Idaho State Veterans Home is able to make a long-time dream a reality, without dipping into their budget.
“Before my back went crazy on me, I golfed every week and sometimes two or three times a week,” said Thom Jensen, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and was awarded a Purple Heart after getting wounded in combat.
Jensen was an avid golfer, but because of his back problems, he hasn’t hit a golf ball in a decade. Thanks to the new putting green, that’s about to change.
“I’m kind of looking forward to getting back into the game a little bit, anyway,” Jensen said.
Within three weeks, veterans will be able to enjoy practicing their putts in the fall weather. The veterans home is hoping to start more outdoor programs for veterans to encourage them to get outside and stay active.
Activities like golf can be therapeutic, according to Josiah Dahlstrom, the home’s administrator. Putting will help veterans work on their balance.
Studies show light exercise can help people struggling with their mental health, a common concern for U.S. veterans.
“The more that we can do that sort of thing out here, having it set up so it’s close by, accessible for them… It adds something different to their normal routine. It gives them something more to look forward to,” Dahlstrom said.
The putting green is just the beginning. Dahlstrom said they’re also considering creating a walking path and a fishing hole.
“If we can bring more to the veterans, and help them still be a part of the community itself, it’ll make a difference with them. We’ve noticed that it makes a difference with the staff that are here, and it makes a difference with the community that gets involved as well,” Dahlstrom said.
Head to Head Sprinklers, the landscaping company hired for the job, has a special connection to the veterans home, too.
“When they approached me about it, I jumped at the opportunity. My wife’s family are all military, so it was a perfect fit for us to jump in and be able to help the veterans home,” said Ryan Richardson, the owner of Head to Head Sprinklers.