After retirement, Dick, a former Navy Chaplain, gained some weight, enough that it was restricting his activities and making him miserable. His VA doctor helped him meet his weight loss goals with a comprehensive program.


VA helped you with a specific medical issue. Can you talk about that?

I didn’t realize it but as time went on after I retired, I started to gain weight. And 2002, my physician at the VA hospital, at a regular physical, said I needed to do some serious consideration because I was obese. At that time, I weighed 271 pounds.

“The mass clinic saved my life.”

So, she became very concerned and set me up for what was called the mass clinic at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, it’s called MOVE! now.

How did that make you feel?

Horrible. Absolutely horrible. I couldn’t tie my shoes. I couldn’t bend over and put my socks on. Every time I’d go up the staircase, I would have to, basically, pull myself up. It was the most horrible feeling I ever had because I couldn’t do the things that I’d always done.

What was the inpatient program like?

I was admitted in August for that clinic. We had a wonderful dietitian and the chef was phenomenal. We would eat 800 calories a day. And that was it. Now, I was with, I think, about eight other men. A couple of them were over 300 pounds.

I was submitted to spending two weeks at VA, 800 calories a day, two hours of physical fitness in the gym per day, plus lectures and videotapes. And basically, what I learned was that everything that I had been told about gaining weight was true.

It’s just that I never paid any attention to it. And the bottom line was, for me, whatever I put into my mouth, I had to walk off. Period. It was that simple.

By December, I was down to about 190. I lost almost 100 pounds through the program of simply teaching me that what I’ve been taught I should have listened to. And watching what I was eating and exercising to be able to balance it.

The mass clinic for me basically saved my life. My being overweight was so difficult that I don’t know if I could have survived. And therefore, basically gave me a whole new lease on life.

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Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for VA’s National Veterans Outreach Office.

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Published on Jun. 10, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 409


  1. Tom Connery June 11, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    I hear about people having problems with their VA healthcare and I don’t see it. Back when I got out in 79 I wouldn’t go either but in 2018 I switched from using Mayo to using the VA because I couldn’t afford the unaffordable health care premiums any more. My care has been excellent with the VA and I am dealing with kidney failure and all I can say is Thankyou VA.

  2. Randy Sherer June 11, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    The problem with the VA is first and foremost they do not listen.
    Secondly a veteran cannot get the meds they need because of A) Veterans abused them and now veterans with real problems cannot receive the meds needed B) VA doctors prescribed meds for vets that didn’t need them.
    In summation between doctors and veterans within the VA veterans with real needs cannot be taken care of because of those before us.

  3. Terry Hubbard June 11, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    I must be a exception. I took control of my heath care at the VA American lake requested different doctor’s till I was comfortable with her and she worked with me. I am Vietnam veteran and have agent orange problems. Hang in there keep changing till you feel right.

  4. Frank Waugh June 11, 2021 at 11:16 am

    I wouldn’t take my cat or dog to the V.A. for treatment….

  5. Ernie Anundson Howe June 11, 2021 at 9:38 am

    Oh yeah, forgot this example I know petsonnaly about.
    A guy I was in the jungle with developed a spot of cancer on a kidney. VA solution & only option they would perform, was to cut off half his kidney. He went to a real doctor, you know the ones that keep their business thru integrity & good care, vs poor suckers who are forced, or don’t demand options, and that civilian doctor cut a 2″ incision, took out the cancer, a few chemo or radiation treatments & he’s been cancer free for about 12vyears now. I ask VA doctors what option would they choose if it were their children….
    , deer I headlight look & no response! We cannot get an honest 2nd opinion because a VA doc will not step on his brother’s toes! So we DO NOT get any honest 2nd opinion. So it’s the VA way or nothing! They will let you die, then claim you refused medical treatment, so it’s the vet’s fault! They are very very good at lies & excuses & wasting America’s money protecting their bonuses, promotions!
    I would bet money my post will get deleted & turned over to my VA. I will never give disgust for the VA. Yes, there are many good people at the VA nut are too scared because of retaliation by VA superiors. So to me, those who put their jobs ahead of a vets care are just as bad as the ones performing the poor care!
    Disgusted Vet,
    Ernie Howe

    • Joe Snuffy June 14, 2021 at 12:39 am

      They are the biggest pieces of garbage I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I was naive & got a job at the va & still work there but I don’t have anything to do with claims patient care etc. the stuff I’ve seen is unbelievable to where civilians not familiar with the VA just plain don’t believe me & think i’m lying. I’ve witnessed shredded documents of patients, doctors discussing patients in the halls elevators etc & I heard this recently word for word..”Dr J, what’s your opinion on Joe Snuffy, you think he’s full of it? He was a pretty good actor I thought. Just give him some adjustment disorder we can’t be handing out every veteran PTSD. Can you believe the nerve of that guy I mentioned last week asking me to write him a Nexus Letter with a DBQ? (The other doctor laughs) I don’t have time for that or get paid to hand this guy the keys to getting his claim approved. (Other doctor asks) What was the excuse you gave him? I told him conflict of interest yadadada & than quickly changed the subject. (Other doctor) that’s a great idea as I haven’t thought of that so far I just ignore there requests. Let’s meet later if we can’t, I’ll email you about “Mr Adjustment Disorder”. Both walk away laughing”

      The VA is more corrupt than the mob. They are the biggest from family in the US. For those of you wondering have I reported what I’ve seen, heard, & even had evidence that would put them dead to rights. Of course I have but for other things before that, and all it has done has made my work environment so much worse with my reputation ruined, harassment, discrimination, & all the resources available to me just pass the buck. It’s a shame, I can’t stand hearing “ we are here for Veterans type speech” and to this day I still call out whoever it is as I don’t care saying that’s BS. Y’all are all talk & if you really did care for our Veterans you would ……
      Of course I’ve been disciplined a few times for it but it’s worth it every single time

  6. Charles Goid June 11, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I totally understand. I was medically discharged from the USAF in 1975. Since 1975 my relationship with the VA has been’ has been at best difficult. I have been in constant pain that has grown worse year by year. I have gone to the VA over the years only to be told that just take some Ibuprofen and Tylenol and learn to cope with it. The worst part is that the VA would do work ups on me including X-rays, MRIs, nerve studies and you name it. Always to be told you have a, “little arthritis” but nothing else. Then finally two years ago I found a new Primary Care Doctor at the San Diego VA. Now after 45 plus years this Doctor ordered all all of the test again, but this time this Doctor actually studied the test results. He called me and made an appointment with me, his first question was, “Why haven’t you done anything to alleviate your pain, you have a very serious problem”. So after 45 plus years, all it took was finding a Primary Care Doctor to open the floodgates for care. So hang in there, shop for a good Primary Care Doctor and shop for a VSO who wants to work for you. Good luck.

  7. Ernie Anundson Howe June 11, 2021 at 8:25 am

    I hear ya pal! Took Asheville VA 2 years to approve my neck & back surgery! Also I spent 2 years in a full blown Rheumatoid Arthritis attack with pain levels 8 to 10 +, ignored by the VA because I asked for a new doctor! They thought I would crawl back.
    Don’t deal with the VA if you have problems. Write the White House Senator Jon Testor (senate chairman) or Senator Takano (congressional chairman) of the VA. Both who never served in the military! VA I G. Local TV reporters and anybody who will listen. Your complaint can dissappear when ypu deal with the VA, but if you start at the top, & save all your evidence) now the VA will have to account to higher authorities than a union brother who also works at the VA!
    Remember the VA TRUE 1ST MISSION! And that is to first, Protect the System, get those stats looking good for those bonuses & promotions!
    Also, after ypu start batching, check all your meds., & procedures they offer you. Remember, one person is a speck.of sand that can dissappear & forgotten! And don’t get discouraged, just get more determined & Continue your fight for proper Healthcare.
    I bought my Medicare as a backup. The VA will NEVER CUT ME, SEDATE ME PERIOD! And, do you know the VA steals from Part B Medicare? I’m rated 100% & see all civilian doctors thru Community Care, (I live more than a hours drive from any VA). The VA tells these civilian medical offices if a vet has other insurance, bill them first. Then the VA makes up the difference. Why can’t we use our Medicare & have the VA make up the difference? Because then the SYSTEM would lose patients & thus it would be work better & then less need for the VA. Remember the VA 1st priority is to PROTECT THAT SYSTEM & CUSHY GOVT. JOBS WITH GREAT benefits.
    Good luck my friend! WE vets need it!
    Disgusted Vet

  8. Ernie Anundson Howe June 11, 2021 at 8:06 am

    You find a few that apparently haven’t researched the VA or been dealing with the govt. union facility. If this is the best care available I can understand why Americans don’t want govt. Healthcare!
    200+ dead in Phoenix waiting for a doctor appt. Man died near Atlanta with over 100 ant bites. Or the vet in hospice in Okla. who died & they fou d maggots under his bandages. The murder committed about Sept. 7th in the Asheville VA where they OVERDOSED a 22 year vet who was a civilian for 7 days. They in the settlement they, (the VA & all personnel assumed no responsibility & had his wife sign an NDA & then they kept their 5 star rating. Me, I sat home alone in a full Rheumatoid Arthritis attack for 18 months with absolutely no help because I asked for a new doctor. Then the VA fought my VA authorized civilian RA doc’s prescription because it wasn’t in their formulary old procedural drugs they hand out. When I finally got the meds, still suffering pain levels of 8 to 10 +, it took less than two days to feel like I was 40 again. 2 years they jetked me around. 2 years of more pain waiting for authorization for neck & back surgery.
    So please don’t cherry pick an opinion of people that apparently don’t investigate, & are very gullible, and ruok let me known their opinion.
    Don’t know if these groups are still.up in Facebook, but go to fb & type in search area VA is Lying. Or VA is Still Lying. Or Veterans for Change & read some of those stories.
    Try to find out if those 370 vets trump used to test his ridiculous hydroxichoriquin claim for Covid. 38% died, about 140 vets. Try to find out if the vet, or their guardians signed consent forms. Politicians & the VA will hide behind Hippa Laws. Then Trump said when it didn’t work out for his claim, ” well that test wasn’t good because alot of them already had one foot in the grave!”
    And I doubt you will print this too! And feel free to put my email address maybe I can help another vet get out of the “KILLING Machine’s” hold on them
    Why not let vets opt out to paid Medicare? And, the vet can opt back in if they don’t like Medicare. Right now we are FORCED into the substandard VA care with no other choice! I have dealt with the VA since 1971. Terrible care then & still is today.
    Why didn’t you mention the aide that hot 7 life sentences for killing vets. Or the drunk pathogist in Ark who worked drunk & affected hundreds of vets.Or the CANDY MAN doc in a WISC. VA handing out opiates like candy & 2 vets died.
    Stop the propaganda. We are no more that guinea pigs & training subjects and a drug outlet for big Pharma to dump all their old procedure drugs.
    Finish this one sentence all the politicians puke out. America’s Vets deserve the “BEST CARE AVAILABLE,” is that best on the market or the Best in the VA cheap $#@ed budget? Get rid of bonuses too!
    To finish, I wouldn’t take my DOG to a VA! I feel I would probably get better care at my dog’s vet than a VA facility!
    A Disgusted Veteran,
    Ernie Howe

  9. Donald E Wyatt June 11, 2021 at 6:12 am

    I hurt my back in the Army I had to get out after a year-and-a-half without being treated they told me to go to the VA worst decision of my life my PTSD was so bad I didn’t have a chance to tell then I needed to be fixed there I’m two inches shorter and incredible pain unable to work with them telling me nothing’s wrong I got out 94 and I’ve been dealing with this since so you could take your VA shove it up your rear end

    • Paul Littel June 11, 2021 at 10:36 am

      That sucks Donald! I don’t know your whole situation, but I can feel the pain if abandonment & hopelessness intensified by physical pain. I’ve been blessed by the care I have received at the Milwaukee VA. 95% of it has been top notch care. There will always be some people who are in the wrong job or just don’t care. Donald, please search out another VA or give that one a 2nd chance. We also play a big part in our care. I have to check my attitude at the door and treat my caregivers with the compassion I am seeking. I have faith that you can find the care you need at the VA. I hope you see this response and know someone cares. Love & Service, Paul USN Vet

Comments are closed.

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