Volunteer arborists unite to beautify VA national cemeteries


Across the country this week, more than 2000 community members and volunteers stepped up to help 45 VA National Cemeteries maintain their grounds while honoring the final resting places of our nations military.

The event was part of a national program titled “Saluting Branches: Arborists United for Veteran Remembrance,” which provides an opportunity for tree care professionals throughout the country to unite and donate tree care to keep Veterans cemeteries beautiful places for all visitors.

IMAGE: Workers remove tree branchesIn Texas, Approximately 30 volunteers representing 13 organizations spent the day pruning and trimming trees at Dallas-Fort Worth national Cemetery.

“I am proud to work at Dallas-Fort Worth national Cemetery and I am very pleased to live in a place where citizens pitch in and help take care of our sacred grounds,” said Air Force Veteran and gardener Bobby Haywood, who has worked at the cemetery for 15 years. He coordinated the event because he believes in Saluting Branches mission saying that it “provides exceptional tree care – to keep our Veterans cemeteries safe, beautiful places for all those who visit.”

In Springfield, Missouri, around 50 volunteers from nine area tree-trimming businesses participated,

“Everytime you look at all these people climbing the trees, grinding up the stumps, or looking at stuff that’s got to be removed, this is all a matter of labor and love,” Dean Alberty told the local television station. Alberty has been volunteering with the program for five years.



Gary Hicks

is the Director of VA’s Office of Digital Media Engagement. He is a former managing editor of a daily newspaper and a Veteran of the U.S. Army. Gary’s wife is a senior master sergeant stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.