The Fort Harrison State Veterans Cemetery in Helena is the final resting place for many of Montana’s bravest men and women.
But there was no rest Wednesday for the arborists and volunteers with the nationwide program Saluting Branches who came from across Montana to prune trees and do the groundwork that helps keep this place safe and beautiful for vets and their families.
"Just seeing these cemeteries, all these people buried here and being able to do something to help beautify this place because we see a lot of visitors here while we’re working and they are so appreciative of what we’re doing," said Saluting Branches site leader Patrick Plantenberg. "So, I just think it’s a great event and that’s why it’s caught on so much across the country.”
Volunteer events like this one are a big help to the grounds crew here at the VA, because they have a lot of ground to cover and, typically, not a lot of bodies to do it.
"This is great because we have limited manpower, limited budget," cemetery groundskeeper Corey Stelling told MTN. "So, for these guys to come out and donate material and time and equipment is invaluable to us.”
Not to mention their expertise in what can be a dangerous line of work.
“Between the cemetery and the main campus over here for the hospital there is about 400 trees here," said Montana VA groundskeeper Alan Low. "So, to keep them trimmed an healthy this is a very good project.”
A project worth growing
“Veterans deserve to have this place looking immaculate," said Stelling.
For more information on the Saluting Branches program check out the link here.