Navy Veteran Tammy D’Alesandro was struggling. “I’m not ashamed to say I was in a really bad place. There were days I didn’t want to be here anymore because I didn’t know who I was,” she recalled. “That was hard.”
Then D’Alesandro was referred to VA’s Whole Health program. It changed the course of her life. “I learned about the Whole Health program through my primary care provider. I was looking for ways to try to take back control of my life after the military.”
In this episode of #VADidThat, we learn about Whole Health, VA’s approach to care that supports the entire health and well-being of Veterans and employees. By centering care on what matters most for Veterans, Whole Health allows each person to discover their own mission, aspiration and purpose, which ultimately drives their commitment to health and wellness.
“The model provides Veterans with instruction on self-care and skill building, while providing support that seamlessly integrates into other health care aspects at VA,” said Kathy Bixby, Whole Health nurse educator and Veteran at the Washington D.C. VA.
Significant decrease in opioid use
Bixby says Whole Health has been shown to impact Veterans facing opioid addiction. “One of the most significant outcomes is a decrease in use of opioids by Veterans who have participated, between 23 and 38 percent, depending on which aspects of Whole Health Veterans are using.”
Many factors can influence a Veteran’s health including gender, culture, language preferences and other characteristics that make each Veteran unique. Whole Health takes these factors into account and then helps Veterans determine their own health and wellness goals.
“Even though it’s not a typical health outcome, I’d say hope drives everything for me regarding my health. And the Whole Health model gave me hope,” said D’Alesandro. “This program, and the hope it gave me, saved my life. And I actually made a promise to myself that I would share my own story of healing and triumph in the hopes that it would save someone else’s life, too.”
Hear the rest of D’Alesandro’s story here.
To learn more, visit www.va.gov/wholehealth.