For a veteran who has served his country, serving his family by building them a backyard oasis became a challenge after unexpected health complications.
A Douglas County landscaping company set out to make his mission a little easier.
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For a veteran who has served his country, serving his family by building them a backyard oasis became a challenge after unexpected health complications.A Douglas County landscaping company set out to make his mission a little easier.James Vines served 23 years of active duty in the U.S. Army. He worked as a truck driver for some of those years, moving equipment and troops, but also spent more than a decade handling the logistical planning for transport missions.“I went everywhere all over the world,” Vines said. “I was in Africa. I did a tour of Panama. I did two tours in Germany.”Toward the end of his career, he served as an operations sergeant and a battalion intelligence sergeant.Vines retired from the Army in 2011 and settled into a job with the U.S. Geological Survey, where he now manages construction sites as a facility/project manager.With a 22-year-old daughter living in Texas and an 18-year-old son in Florida, also in the Army, Vines and his wife, Stephany, spent their free time fixing up the front and back yards of their Commerce City home.“When we bought this house it had been neglected for a long time,” Vines said.Bushes and trees were so overgrown in the backyard the fence wasn’t visible. With the help of a neighbor, the Vines cleared out the overgrowth.They then took a chainsaw to bushes in front and, on hands and knees, dug out the roots.The work was harder than expected.Recovering from a lung tumorBreathing had become a struggle over the past couple of years, he said. Last year alone he contracted pneumonia five times.In August, doctors discovered a tumor growing on his right lung. By September they removed part of the organ in an approximate five-hour procedure.Vines spent a week in the hospital and another three at home from work. The healing process was slow, he said, and he lacked energy.The next planned steps for their yard was to tear out grass, lay new sod and install a sprinkler system, but that went undone as Vines kept working toward recovery.“I steadily just started moving more and doing more, as I could,” he said.In time, Vines again planned to take up his landscape project. He and his family love the outdoors. They camp. They fish. They ride motorcycles. He wanted to create them an outdoor oasis.So Vines and his neighbor agreed to help fix up each other’s yards.“I was ready,” Vines said. “I don’t know how well I would have done but I was ready.”Then came a knock on his front door.A way to give backOn March 25, Jason and Jeannine Sakry, who own and operate J.S. Enterprises Professional Custom Landscaping, surprised the Vines family with a free landscaping makeover.It’s part of their newly started program called Landscaping for Vets. Jason and Jeannine have operated their business for 12 years, working mostly in the Larkspur and Castle Rock areas.In the last year, the couple leveraged their landscaping expertise as a way to help others. They specifically sought to make veterans feel appreciated.“It was just a way to give back to them to let them know what they do doesn’t go unnoticed,” Jason said.In December, Jason and Jeannine called for the public to nominate veterans throughout the Front Range, promising a free, full-service landscaping makeover to the winner.They accepted nominations in January and February, of which they received about 60, Jason said. A public vote narrowed down the top 10 to the top six candidates.A selection panel — all veterans and including the likes of 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler — chose the winner from those six.“They were all worthy,” Jason said, calling the selection a tough decision.Jeannine described surprising to the winners, James and Stephany, as an amazing feeling.“To see their reaction and how much it really meant to them,” she said. “You don’t even really know until you do it.”And when it comes to the landscaping, they’re not skimping on the perks.“We wanted to be very clear that as easy as that would be,” Jason said, “we wanted to go above and beyond. We wanted to treat it as though somebody was paying us to do this.”Designs for the Vines project, and those in the future, will include features such as built-in barbecues, fire pits, coy ponds and custom landscaping — all funded by Jason, Jeannine and their company.“You name it,” Jason said. “These are the highest dollar things involved in landscaping.”For Vines, the program is an important reminder that veterans are cared for.“When I was actually in the Army we never thought much of our day to day,” he said. “But just seeing something like this, you know, it’s for real that people actually care.”
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