Tomah VA Medical Center
Before I Die Project
By Derrick Smith, Public Affairs Specialist
Monday, May 13, 2019While a first for a VA facility, more than 4,000 Before I Die walls have been created in more than 70 countries. The Before I Die Project, located in the Center Courtyard, is a participatory public art project that reimagines our relationship with death and with one another in the public realm.
Tomah VA received a Spark, Seed, Spread Grant of $50,000 in March of 2018 to build the wall.
Acting Medical Center Director Karen Long welcomed Tomah staff members, community partners and Veterans to the event and presented the contractors with certificates.
“This wall will create a space within the Tomah VA community that will help Veterans restore perspective by sharing with one another”, said Long.
Jerry Bush, the general superintendent of US Vets General Contractors, a Veteran-owned company, oversaw the general contracting of the project.
“We self-performed the excavation, the concrete and had a sub-contractor, La Crosse Signs did the signage,” said Bush.
Jolene Renda, Chief of Geriatrics and Extended Care, was instrumental in bringing the project to the VA. She said, “The Before I Die wall is an opportunity for the Tomah VA community to promote healing through a public art project and compliments the healing space in our courtyard.”
Veterans contributed their thoughts in writing on the newly erected project immediately after the ribbon cutting.