Written by: Cyd Mason, LCSW Green House Guide
VA Illiana Health Care System
On a mid-summer afternoon Veteran Thomas M. Booher (Korean War) sat looking out the front window of Liberty House (one of VA Illiana Health Care System’s Green House homes) at the front yard. As the Guide I visit the Green House homes with regularity and on this day I pulled up a chair and asked him what he thought about the landscaping. To my surprise I learned that Mr. Booher had a Bachelor’s Degree in Botany from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He pointed out that there was one tree in particular that was “too close to the house.” He said, “as that tree grows it will destroy the foundation of this house. It’s a Burr Oak and they get very large. You have to remember there’s more under the ground than what you can see. Trees have an extensive root system and that’s why one day the foundation and the roof will be damaged. You really need to remove it and plant something smaller near the house.”
Korean War Veteran, Thomas M. Booher, Botanist and resident of Liberty House (one of VA Illiana Health Care System’s Green House homes).
Veteran Thomas M. Booher’s expertise was shared with our Green House leadership and with our staff that maintains and cares for our landscaping. Several weeks later the Burr tree was removed and transplanted in the backyard and two crab trees were added to the front of Liberty House. Their small stature of twelve feet will not interfere with the house foundation or its roof. We owe a big “Thank you” to Mr. Booher for making us aware of this potential future problem!
We talked about his career in designing and building custom homes. “Impressive,“ I thought. He said, “That’s the hardest way to make an easy living!” He grinned ear to ear as he shared that with me.
Our conversation turned to his experience living in Liberty House. He said, “It’s just absolutely great here and that goes along with the staff. This couldn’t work without them (shahbazim). I can’t say anymore than that – that and with one of our RNs who ‘can spin a tale!’”
We are fortunate to have Mr. Booher residing in Liberty House. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of plant life, music and a good joke now and then. In the past ten months of living in Liberty House I have seen Mr. Booher “open up” and “blossom” with his fellow Veterans around the dinner table and with the shahbazim and one RN in particular. We truly see the building of relationships in Liberty House. Mr. Booher is one very fine example of why embracing the Green House model was the “right thing to do.”