Veteran Robert Jarousak, who served his country in both the Navy and the Army, has struggled with his weight for years.

“Now that I have started my diet and exercise program, I eat a lot healthier,” said Jarousak, who has lost 88 pounds and says he found success by setting goals, keeping a daily food journal, and being mindful of his caloric intake.

“I used to eat anything I wanted, at any time I wanted, day or night,” said Jarousak. “When I ate at a buffet, my plate was piled high with food. I would usually go back for seconds, plus have several desserts. I would also drink at least four Mountain Dews a day and exercised very little.”

Recent studies have revealed that the Veteran population has a weight problem. As of 2019, about 80% of Veterans nationwide are overweight or obese. Distressingly, obesity is linked to chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It is also associated with arthritis pain, injuries, and muscle atrophy.

During his yearly check-up, Jarousak’s physician was concerned when the veteran’s liver function test results came back abnormal. He immediately referred Robert to a specialist who confirmed fatty liver disease and prediabetes.

Choosing a Plan

Weighing 276 pounds, Jarousak met with Clinical Dietitian Misty Loafman at the Lawton VA Outpatient Clinic in March 2018. During their conversation, Misty listened to his doubts and offered several options for him to lose weight and improve his overall health.

Jarousak thought VA’s 16-week MOVE! Weight Management Program might work for him. He began working closely with his MOVE! Care Team and his Primary Care Team to address not only his diabetes, but also his other health concerns.

Obesity can be addressed with small steps that can lead to big results. Evidence shows that even a 5% reduction in body weight creates a meaningful effect on overall health and reduces risks for chronic illnesses.

“In MOVE!, I learned the bottom line was eating and drinking fewer calories and exercising more,” said Jarousak. “This meant tracking my daily calories and reading food labels to make healthier food choices.”

With the encouragement and continuous support of his MOVE! Care Team, Jarousak started slowly by walking every day. At first, he could only walk about ten blocks. Eventually, he increased that number and started running. After hearing about Misty’s running adventures, Jarousak decided to try a 5K race. Since that first event, he has participated in several others and ended 2019 by running the Honolulu Marathon.

Since first trying a 5K race, Veteran Robert Jarousak has participated in several others and ended 2019 by running the Honolulu Marathon.

Road to Success

To date, Jarousak lost 88 pounds.

“Now that I have started my diet and exercise program, I eat a lot healthier,” said Jarousak, who says he found success by setting goals, keeping a daily food journal, and being mindful of his caloric intake. “I’m crushing my run times, setting personal records, and I’m committed to a healthy lifestyle. I’m also looking forward to doing more this year. To other Veterans, I say, ‘Are you ready to improve your life?’”

MOVE! Information

MOVE! is a weight management and health promotion program designed to improve the lives of Veterans. MOVE!’s core ideas — encouraging healthy eating behavior, increasing physical activity, and promoting even small weight losses — are easy to follow and based on the latest in nutrition science.

“MOVE! is available for all Veterans at all VA health care facilities. MOVE! coordinators provide direct support and assist Veterans in meeting their weight loss goals,” said Loafman. “We also offer TeleMOVE!, a telehealth option using in-home messaging technologies, and MOVE!Coach, a mobile app providing anytime fingertip access to tools and resources. But, I think the best part of the MOVE! is that it really works. I’ve seen it personally.”

Each year, about 120,000 Veterans nationwide participate in the MOVE! Program. In fact, the participation rate in MOVE! is more than double the 2-3% rate in similar private sector programs. At the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System, about 2,000 Veterans join annually.

If you would like to learn more about how MOVE! has helped thousands of Veterans achieve their weight loss and health goals, read these MOVE! Success Stories.

Audrey M. Umhoefer is a chief at the Veterans Experience and Patient Advocacy, Acting Public Affairs Officer, Oklahoma City VA Health Care System

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Published on Jan. 31, 2020

Estimated reading time is 3.8 min.

Views to date: 293


  1. Celeste Worley-Utley February 8, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    It’s hard to lose weight when the VA puts you on medication that puts weight on you. Because of that, I’m concerned overly obsessed (according to the BMI numbers). Unfortunately the VA in my area refuses to offer the Saxenda medication, which would help with weight lost. I’ve tried all the medications on their formulary list, with no results. I was told that the VA on the East coast offers veterans the medication.

  2. Alexis M. Anderson-Colby February 7, 2020 at 4:43 am

    Congratulations to all who have succeeded in attaining their weight loss goals! I lost over 40lbs simply by changing to a plant based lifestyle not a diet. I gave up eating meat and fish, dairy, eggs, sugar and oil. Bought a fitBit to track my steps, water and other health areas. Lowered my cholesterol and blood pressure is normal. I get my protein and other nutrients through vegetables, legumes and fruits.

  3. Wade Allen Hawk February 6, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    You know what would help though, and I didn’t read the whole story by the way, because the VA disgusts me how they do. How about first fixing the root of the problem to avoid veterans getting fat to begin with, and I’ll give you a hint, it’s not overeating actually. The problem is the VA doesn’t have realistic numbers for what is low testosterone. I can’t get help with mine so I gained weight. They say it’s high enough if it’s even as low as 250, which is rediculous. The numbers they use are made up numbers not based in common sense or reality. Veterans are gaining weight mainly because they have low T, and the VA won’t help them. Anything under 800 isn’t a reasonable number, do they think the people getting killed during war are running on 250? I guarantee not. The VA doesn’t care what the Veterans think, how their body is or nothing, just here’s our number we decided on unless you drop below 250 tough. This needs to be fixed. When your Testosterone is low and your a Man you don’t feel like doing anything, and you don’t, and that’s what causes most of the problems, dare I say all.

  4. Peter Bergonzi February 5, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Big Congrats Robert!

  5. Dave Samen February 2, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I am a veteran who is over weight and had tried the tele move program because i lived a good ways from my hospital, i knew all the information about losing weight and caloric intake and what not. But the calls from the program we’re just repeating over and over each day to the point that i just stopped the program and started my own journey. To daye I’ve lost around 40 lbs and i would love to give this program another try if it has indeed gotten better.

  6. Barbara taylor February 1, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    More info about tele move.

Comments are closed.

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