Iron Mountain, Mich. (WZMQ) – In Dickinson County, the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center is launching a brand-new session of its Whole Health Program this August, offering veterans a comprehensive approach to self-care. The program, which has been around since 2018, slowed down during the pandemic. However, officials at the center are now revamping the program to help veterans prioritize their health and well-being.
“It’s an 8 week program, and what we do is we look at what’s called the Whole Health Circle of Care, and it looks at the 8 self-care areas. And we go in depth looking at each of those areas looking at what matters most. We look for values, conflict, and barriers that could come up in goals. We set up goal and action steps to get our veterans to that goal,” remarked Pamela Dubrow, the Social Science Program Coordinator of the VA. Dubrow does the health coaching and facilitates the Veteran’s Whole Health Program, ‘Taking Charge of My Life and Health’ at the center.
“I think it’s a great group to come to because you get a variety of different veterans. Male, female, older veterans, younger veterans,” she noted. ‘The Whole Health Program is open to all veterans who want to prioritize their health and well-being,” added Dubrow. Dubrow explained that the Whole Health program is fairly new to the VA, having started in 2018, and then the pandemic slowed the program down quite a bit.
One group facilitator of the ‘Taking Charge of My Health and Life’ program, Adam Hayes, has participated in the full 8-week course himself. He says the program can provide a baseline to achieving health goals. He acknowledged that strong, independent Yoopers can certainly do things on their own, but there is benefit to group work in the exchange of ideas and getting feedback from a group. “Having someone else to bounce ideas off of even if it’s just to hear your own self-talk and then to get feedback from either one partner within the group, or the group as a whole is really good because you put all of those ideas together into a big pot. You really get a lot more out of it with a group of participants rather than just going solo on it,” Hayes stated.
Hayes pointed out that the group sessions re-create the sense of belonging that is a one-of-a-kind experience with the military.
“We all kind of police ourselves, take care of each other, watch out for some cues that one person might miss, that another one might pick up if someone’s having a difficult day,” explained Hayes. “It re-creates that feeling of family we’ve had in the military. Day one is always super awkward, and after that we’re joking around just like back in the day,” he shared . He noted that the program has a new whole health coach on staff who has been getting a lot of praise, and the Whole Health RN, Misty always does well with the participants of the program.
“I would say that the Whole Health approach as a whole is a really good baseline for healthcare, because they look at you as a whole person. Not just physical health, not just mental health, there’s many different aspects of health, and throughout these groups you find out a little bit about each of them,” Hayes added.
Shawn Bogear, a U.S. Army veteran and program participant, says he’s reaping the benefits now, from a session he participated in six months ago. Bogear informed that the program has helped a great deal in getting some of his pain under control. “Going through the group, you do a little change here, a little change there, but looking back at it, it’s made a lot of difference,” he commented.
The upcoming session is also available for veterans to attend virtually though VA video connect. Veterans who wish to enroll either in-person or virtually, or have questions about enrolling in the upcoming group session can contact the Whole Health Department at the VA Medical Center at:
906-774-3300 Extension 34818, or by calling: 1-800-215-8262
For more information about the VA’s Whole Health Program visit: