Being confident is very important to Florida Veteran Christopher Young (pictured above). He joined the Marine Corps at 17 so he could be just like his father. Young served from 1991 to 1995 at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he was on the Marine Corps boxing team.
“My mother had to give permission for me to join,” Young said. “I signed my contract and was sworn into the Delayed Entry Program around June 1990. By the time I graduated from high school and left for boot camp in June 1991, I had served a year of inactive reserve duty.”
Migraines brought on immobility
Following his time in service, Young earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics from the University of North Florida and worked in the financial investment field until migraines and other health issues brought on immobility for about 10 years.
“I did nothing physical other than walking to and from my car since 2008,” he said. “My neck was out of whack, I had a torn rotator cuff, and I could barely move.”
Veteran lost 23 pounds focusing on healthy eating.
As a patient of the Orlando VA Medical Center, Young started to receive Botox injections for his migraines in 2015 and was referred for acupuncture in 2019. “After my second round of acupuncture in 2020, I felt the best I had felt physically in years,” he said. “I was finally loose enough to start doing something physically.”
In his younger years, he had played football and soccer, ran track and was a boxer. Spending all those years not being able to move had a major effect on his self-image. “It messes with your spirit,” he said. “I know what good shape is and I knew I wasn’t in good shape.”
“Whole health started me in the direction I wanted to go.”
When Young wanted to continue for a third round of acupuncture, he was told he would be expected to enroll for Whole Health services along with the acupuncture. “When I got the call from Whole Health, it started me in the direction I wanted to go,” he added.
Working with certified Whole Health Coach Khenitha Reeves put Young on the path to achieving his goals.
Young said Reeves has been a joy to work with since he started in July 2020, and he shows her he is making an investment in himself.
So far, Young has lost 23 pounds and has kept it off by focusing on healthy eating and getting exercise. In addition to the visible changes, Young watches his lab results. The last tests, in December, saw overall improvement in all measures.
“I just feel happy to be alive.”
“This is not a measurable goal, but I just feel happy to be alive and I feel much more outgoing now,” he said.
Reeves, who has more than 100 appointments with Veterans each month, help them set and attain goals that matter to them.
“I have been coaching Veterans for three years, and they still inspire me every day,” Reeves said. “I use my sister’s saying when I am working with them: ‘Be firm in what you value and flexible in how it manifests.’ This reminds them that, even if they are not going back to the way things used to be, they can still honor their values and live their best lives.”
VA has trained close to 2000 Whole Health coaches across the VA Health Care System. Coaches work with Veterans one on one and sometimes in groups.
For more information on Whole Health and how you can get started on your journey, visit www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/index.asp.
Andrea Young is a field implementation team consultant for the Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation.