A nonprofit organization has partnered with the city of Leavenworth Parks and Recreation Department to help provide a new mission for military veterans transitioning back into civilian life.

Military veterans are invited to join forces with community members in cleaning and creating trails and camp sites in Leavenworth.

The trail creation and restoration work also includes construction of picnic and fishing areas. The program also welcomes volunteer service from active duty military personnel.

Construction is taking place at VA Memorial Park, a 72-acre tract of land located in the wooded area northeast of the Eisenhower VA Medical Center.

The program, Into the Woods, is the brainchild of Chelsea Barto, a former Army combat medic.

She said military personnel are goal-minded and mission-oriented.

“This is their next mission,” she said. “It gets them involved in their community.”

Barto said the program is associated with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that empowers service members and veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home.

Several work days have been established in the next several months. The next work day is at 9 a.m. March 25. Four other work dates have been scheduled through August as part of the Into the Woods program.

But volunteers are welcome each Saturday to develop the park’s five trail heads, which have been named after U.S. service branches. The project includes the Army Patriot Trail, the Navy SEAL Trail, the Air Force Aim High Trail, the Marine Corps Devil Dog Trail and the Coast Guard First Line of Defense Trail. The project also includes the Homeland Security Border Patrol Trail.

Steven Bray, chairman of the Leavenworth Trails Association and Parks and Recreation staffer, said two miles of trails have already been prepared at the park.

“We are looking for more trail blazers,” he said.

He said plans are to build bridges and erect split rail fences in the park.

Volunteers are asked to bring hedge clippers, shovels, axes, rakes and other tools.

Bray said volunteers also are needed to help cultivate flower beds in the park.

“This is not just a veterans’ park,” Bray said. “It’s for all of the citizens.”

For more information about the trail project, call Bray at 913-705-9606.

For more information about The Mission Continues, email Barto at cbarto@missioncontinues.org

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