Wellness at the VA (Department of Medical Affairs)

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Stop the Cycle of Reacting and Responding

I’ve been in the VA system for a very long time. I remember years ago not long after I first got off of active duty, I went to the VA for care and it was a total mess. Veterans were scattered in the hallways, some in beds, some on the floor. People were walking around like a zombie apocalypse movie. The doctors that I worked with treated me like a piece of material on an assembly line. Since I had just gotten out, it didn’t feel unfamiliar as the Navy didn’t coddle us either. Get in, get out and get 800mg of Motrin for anything that hurts you.

Over the years, the VA issues became public along with a commercialized appreciation for our veterans. It became popular to care about those who serve. If you are like me, you know it wasn’t always like this. For whatever reasons, the government chose to address issues with the VA but as the government does with everything, it turned the VA like a big ole’ carrier which changes the direction of the ship but leaves a lot of room for systematic change.

All said they are taking action and they are trying. It certainly shows in the behavior of the people working with and for the VA. Over the past few years, I have gone back to the VA for my primary healthcare and it is much better than it was. The new movement towards community care which allows veterans to use external providers is definitely a positive change. While I can see a lot of issues with community care today, I believe the changes taking place will only work out in favor of the veterans in the long run.

One of the programs made available to me through the VA is a wellness program that focuses on whole health. The wellness program is seemingly very new but aggressive in its ideas on healthy living. I think they’d rather the veterans focus on learning to live better vs die with less pain. There is a great distinction because in the old days. the VA would just throw pills over to us, now they are educating us.

I think the wellness program is a great start and I find the work to be very helpful and effective. I am learning medical yoga, healthy nutrition and eating habits, and getting access to other types of health care like acupuncture. The hard part so far seems to be the lack of funding for the program. There aren’t enough people to work with the veterans and they need more help in technology investments to allow them to serve more veterans remotely and offer other capabilities.

I’d say the concept of the wellness program is one of the best things I’ve seen from the VA hands down. The VA doesn’t seem to advertise it and I can understand why. If all of us knew about how this program worked, we would all seek it out on the daily.

For my fellow veterans that want to stop reacting to pain, please consider reaching out to your VA medical center and ask them if they have a wellness program. If they do, it would be worth your time to check it out. I am better for it..


Posted in KM.