By Max Goodwin
The Veterans Community Project has been so successful in its mission to provide housing and walk-in support services to veterans in need that the program has been expanded to St. Louis, Colorado, and the newest community, announced on Veterans day will be in Oklahoma City.
The original Veterans Community Project, at 89th and Troost, founded in 2015, celebrated the week of Veterans Day by dedicating a new design feature to the community, a labyrinth, designed to help provide veterans with a walking meditative experience.
Organizers decided to include a labyrinth at the Veterans Community Project after seeing their usefulness at veteran retreats around the country. The labyrinth is a brick path that forms a circle, following the path takes you to the center of the circle, then you turn around and traverse the same path back out of the labyrinth.
On Veteran’s Day, close partners of the Veterans Community Project went to check out the new addition. Justin Hoover was one of those partners there to see the labyrinth on its first day after completion. Hoover is executive director of The Battle Within, which is a five-day program that allows veterans and first-responders to come together and process the trauma they’ve incurred. Hoover said they use labyrinths as part of that healing process.
“A labyrinth is a great walking meditation tool. It’s been used throughout time and around the world,” Hoover said. “It’s a great device, particularly for warriors because you can’t get lost. You’re not supposed to be lost, there’s one way in and one way out.”
The simplicity of a labyrinth allows the individual to walk the path without concern of where they are going, allowing the mind to focus on something other than the journey. It’s a way to incorporate the body into meditation, especially for those who struggle with sitting and meditating.
“It’s really that opportunity to go in with whatever you’re working on in life,” Hoover said. “Many people find that problem goes with you until you reach the middle and then the solution, or at least the start of the solution, comes to you throughout that process on the way out.”
Hoover says that within the last two decades they have become a lot more commonly used by veteran organizations for this kind of healing.
The new labyrinth at the Veterans Community Project sits just behind the tiny-house community where the veterans live, in between the small greenhouse and the off-leash dog park near the woods. The location, right outside the door of the veterans who live in the community, makes it that much more useful.
Co-founder of the Veterans Community Project, Brandonn Mixon, said he had not yet experienced a labyrinth but was excited to try it himself. The Veterans Community Project was designed to be like the military lifestyle of living in barracks as veterans transition out of the military. Now, right in their own backyard is an extra resource to help ease their mind during that transition anytime they need it.