One in four Veterans live with type 2 diabetes. That’s more than double the rate for the general population.

For many, the diagnosis can be life changing. It can mean a lifetime of medication, painful injections, work issues and side effects. Lester, a Veteran of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, recalls hearing the news that he had type 2 diabetes: “It felt like a life sentence. I was scared,” he said.

VA supports Veterans with Type 2 Diabetes through Virta partnership

To support Veterans with type 2 diabetes in new ways, VA’s Specialty Care Program Office has partnered with digital health provider Virta Health. The Virta treatment is designed to help people return blood sugar to normal levels while reducing the dose, number or need for diabetes medication.

Male Veteran

Lester: “My Virta care team is so important.”

​​Virta delivers care through a combination of telehealth in personalized nutrition, 1×1 coaching, provider supervision, peer support and a mobile application. VA has been working with Virta since May 2019 and, through this partnership, over 800 Veterans have started their journey in successful management of type 2 diabetes.

For Lester, the treatment gave him something he thought he’d lost: hope. “Before joining, I felt that I was going to end up with major health problems. I don’t think that anymore. My energy levels have gone way up, my pain levels have gone down, and I am able to focus much better. I’ve also lost weight, and never have any issues with hunger,” he said.

Results of pilot program presented at ADA scientific sessions

Virta presented preliminary data from their 2-year pilot program with VA at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions.

Participants were able to reduce the number of prescription drugs they take by 33%, on average. Even with a reduction of medication, this corresponded to a lowering of HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar) for those participating in the Virta treatment. Forty percent were able to lower their A1c to goal or better. Participating Veterans also reduced their weight by 7%, exceeding what is considered “clinically significant.”

What’s behind these outcomes? For many, Virta’s model of care helps them adopt and maintain meaningful lifestyle changes. People living with type 2 diabetes often need to make hourly decisions about their health, so having an on-call support network through health coaches, peer support and providers can have real impact.

“My care team at Virta is so important to me. The coaches and doctors help me stay focused, and energize me when I need a boost,” Lester added.

Virta health pilot augments VA health services

VA is committed to bringing Veterans quality care, wherever they are, and it pursues partnerships that create positive impact for our Veterans with innovative technologies that augment VA’s existing services.

Although the pilot is fully enrolled, Veterans interested in participating can indicate interest at www.virtahealth.com/veterans. For information on VA health care, visit www.va.gov/health.

By Anne Utech

VHA national executive director of Nutrition and Food Services

Share this story

Published on Aug. 18, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 19,268

Link Disclaimer

This page includes links to other websites outside our control and jurisdiction. VA is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of non-VA Web sites. We encourage you to review the privacy policy or terms and conditions of those sites to fully understand what information is collected and how it is used.

Statement of Endorsement

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

18 Comments

  1. James R. Whedbee Jr. August 23, 2022 at 10:27 am

    The VA does not support vets with type 2 diabetes if their A1C is under 7. Do you know how hard it is to get that kind of handle on this disease? I ran out of test strips and the VA would not provide them. I have a medicare advantage plan through my retirement employer, so I requested a prescription from my VA doctor to go through my insurance and they would not even do that. So I had to make a doctor’s appointment with a non VA doc in order to get test strips through my non VA insurance. THAT IS NOT SUPPORT!!!!

    • Jonathan Turk August 28, 2022 at 9:33 pm

      James, Wonder what VA hospital or clinic you go to? That sure is different from the Florida VA hospital and clinic I go to.

  2. 1SG Frank Alcorn August 22, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    VA is a “dollar short… day late”

    As of October 23rd, 2019, we have exceeded 400 enrollments and therefore are not enrolling additional Veterans at this time. We are actively working with the Veterans Health Administration to evaluate the results of the pilot in order to determine future opportunities for Veterans to enroll in Virta.

    Check Eligibility

  3. John L Williams August 19, 2022 at 11:35 pm

    When I managed to get my A1C down to 6, the VA stopped providing test strips because my A1C was under 8. My type 2 is a result of exposure to Agent Orange.

    • Jonathan Turk August 28, 2022 at 9:34 pm

      John, Wonder what VA hospital or clinic you go to? That sure is different from the Florida VA hospital and clinic I go to.

  4. Bruce Bryant August 19, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    No one’s helped me

  5. Clare Smith August 19, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    You have got to be kidding me. For over 3 years my husband has been wearing the Freestyle Libre sensor. If his diabetes was considered “out of control” the VA would cover the cost of this. Because this device helps him keep his diabetes well controlled they won’t cover it. It makes no sense.

  6. Louis Perez August 19, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    Absolutely BS I have had type 2 diabetes and no support at all or even lab test or explanation from doctors ,nurses or anyone on me having it or what was I taking medication for. Not the mention I’ve been in Georgia 2 years and still waiting for an appointment and medication refill with mental health because doctors keep quitting.

    • Nelson W. Bell August 19, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      I agree, totally BS.
      and I have no problem putting my name down. Anything positive about getting my diabetes under control didn’t come from the VA. Did my own research, Got off that death drug metformin .worked out my own program as to what work..
      Fought to get pins for best
      dose usages…

    • Jonathan Turk August 28, 2022 at 9:49 pm

      Louise, Sounds like you might want to contact a VA patient advocate if you are having problems getting an appointment or other problems getting care at the VA, if you are registered with the VA hospital or clinic. The patient advocates might be hard to get a hold of as they are so busy, but it might be worth it.

  7. Dawn O’Connor August 19, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    All you hear at your VA appointments is what you are already doing and they act like they don’t believe you. Why go to the appointment to hear the same rattle from the new trainee. It so frustrating. My husband is 6’3” and weighed just over 200. Certainly not overweight. He was very careful with his food and meds and still had high A1c. We always felt like criminals. Seems like they had never heard of agent organize destroying your body before. He passed away from complete kidney failure, 17% usage of his heart of gold and a stroke. He was a kind, wonderful soul who deserved better from service in a war that killed him 50 years later.

  8. Mike L Williams August 19, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    THIS IS BULLSHT!
    Enrollment was put on hold since June 2019

    • Luis Perez August 19, 2022 at 3:04 pm

      I agree 100% with you the VA is not taking care appropriately of us

  9. larry mayer August 18, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    what is your aic when you have typr 2 diabetes ?

    • David Wright August 19, 2022 at 2:50 pm

      Three year old “news” is the closest thing to “fake news” since Trump! “Enrollment on hold since 2019”? Give me a break! Why bother to write an article? “We now have these options for care for diabetic vets… oh, discontinued? Never mind”!

  10. Robert Mohrman August 18, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    Sorry, but I have to disagree. The VA doesn’t appear to give a tinkers damn about Vietnam Vets with type 2 diabetes. I was diagnosed with it roughly 11 years ago. My VA doctor put me on 2 oral meds, restricted my diet, and don’t do strenuous exercises. That automatically qualified me for 20% disability. It took TWO AND HALF YEARS TO GET (SCANDULOUS!). 3 years ago my VA dr. added insulin shots. That should have increased my disability rating another 20%. I have been turned down 3 times now!! It says in the VA paperwork that having all of those things qualifies me for 40% disability! I guess I am going to have to get a lawyer to sue the VA. Of course when the VA honors my increase the lawyer will get 1/3 of my back pay!! RIDICULOUS!! FIX IT!!!!!

    • Romy A August 19, 2022 at 2:49 pm

      If you have the document to prove that you are a Vietnam Vet the VA can rate you with your DB2 because that is an Agent Orange Presumptive disease.

    • Jonathan Turk August 28, 2022 at 9:29 pm

      Robert, You should use a veteran service organization as they do NOT charge anything to help you fill out the paperwork correctly. Lawyers can charge money, but they can’t make the VA go any faster, since there are so many claims being filed. The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) does many claims, but there are also VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), AMVETS, Vietnam Veterans of America, many or all states and most U.S. territories have their own department of veterans affairs with employees who also do claims, and many counties in several states like all 67 Florida counties have one or more employees helping with claims. There are many veterans getting help with diabetes in Florida, so I do NOT know about the VA hospitals and clinics in other states. To get compensation from the VA, (1) the illness has to be due to military service, (2) have to be getting care for that illness or injury now, and (3) connect the two. Besides the 10%, 20%, or 40%, there can be more if the diabetes causes other problems like neuropathy. The new Pack Act now includes more places that are covered for Agent Orange illnesses.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • In this four-part series on VA's Emergency Preparedness Simulation efforts, you'll see how simulation and emergency preparedness professionals build collective strategies that mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from tragedies impacting Veterans and their communities.

  • A VA employee donated a kidney to his friend and VA coworker, providing the gift of life. Doctors said 100% match almost impossible.

  • The PACT Act will help VA provide health care and benefits to millions of toxic-exposed Veterans and their survivors. Veterans have already begun to apply for the benefits.