Iowa Knights of Columbus Dedicated Cornerstone Rock for VA Hospital Terrain Therapy Garden

Author: James Maertens, Council #1961 Stuart

Members of the Iowa Knights of Columbus greatly exemplified their fourth degree duty of patriotism Sunday, December 17th. Members were on hand for the official dedication of a painted rock that will serve as a cornerstone for the Terrain Therapy Garden at VA Central Iowa Health Care System in Des Moines.

The ceremony began with an honor guard procession and the singing of the national anthem. Following comments from Brenda Safranski, on behalf of Senator Joni Ernst, the artist, Bubba Sorensen, described his mural on the rock. Sorensen especially noted his portrayal of the American flag. “One of my signature things to do is to put ‘Old Glory’ over the top and to me that represents not only all veterans but all Americans.”

Sorensen wanted the rock to display an overall medical theme and included nurses and other medical representations. He also purposefully left any depicted veterans as branch-neutral as possible, to ensure that all vets could experience the peace and healing this rock could provide. In his description, Sorensen made sure to point out the divine creator’s hand in creating the masterpiece. “I think God does a pretty good job of forming stuff too. So I let his artwork show through.”

Bob Ukena, Veterans Outreach Coordinator for the Iowa Knights of Columbus and a veteran himself, also gave his remarks on the dedication. In his numerous notes of gratitude, he thanked those medical personnel who are portrayed on the rock. “While we honor the warriors who have served, we frequently overlook the nurses, doctors, medics, and caregivers who care for those in the field and during their arduous remaining years when they return home again.”

Ukena also thanked several members from various fourth degree assemblies, including: St. John Paul II (Des Moines)-3030, James G. Jordan (West Des Moines)-3031, Father William Thomas Cummings (Granger)-3378, and James L. Chambers (Altoona)-3379 for their support in helping to make this project a reality. He also thanked John Josephson of Ft. Dodge, who donated the rock, and the VA’s Recreational Therapist Kayla Sherwood, who Ukena says is his “hero”. Ukena was overwhelmed by the support and unity showed in the project’s completion.  “This is a great example of people coming together for the common cause of making life better for our veterans.”

The hospital hopes to finish the garden this coming summer. If you’re interested in making donations contact Ken Wiley at

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