Hope and Healing for US Veterans
Since 2019, we’ve partnered with VA Sunshine Healthcare Network (VISN 8) to integrate our model of self-care and group support into the VA’s Whole Health Coaching program. We’ve trained 300 VISN8 staff members, and continue to lay the foundation for a sustained mind-body medicine program across the entire healthcare system.
Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, with some 800,000 currently estimated to be living with PTSD. Challenging and sometimes debilitating symptoms of mental illness—like depression, frustration, sleeplessness, nightmares and flashbacks and feelings of isolation—prevent many veterans from working and leading healthful lives. Those who have served are not the only ones affected by their trauma—family members suffer alongside them. Health care providers serving vets also struggle to cope with their patients’ and their own stress and trauma.
VISN 8 is the largest hospital and clinic system in the Veterans Health Administration, serving 1.5 million U.S. veterans across the southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean. VISN 8 embodies the VA’s Whole Health Coach philosophy, and provides veterans with assistance in realizing their own health goals based on their lives’ mission, aspirations, and purpose. These licensed practical nurses, many of whom are themselves veterans, provide primary care and psychological support to struggling veterans.
CMBM approached VISN 8 in 2019 with our trauma-relief model. Since then, our comprehensive training and mentorship programs in the CMBM model has become foundational for 300 VISN 8 staff.
CMBM has trained 300 VISN 8 staff in our model so far. The 200 Whole Health Coaches and 100 clinical leaders have now taken it upon themselves to develop and expand the reach of mind-body medicine programming to serve all 1.5 million veterans receiving treatment in the VISN 8 healthcare system. Dr. Miguel La Puz, former VISN 8 Network Director and current Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Integrated Veteran Care, and his team have recommended that the VA central office implement the CMBM Whole Health Coach model nationally. The 300 CMBM-trained VISN staff have also committed to make mind-body medicine fully sustainable within the entire VISN system.
Upon completion of CMBM’s comprehensive training program, VISN 8 identified a team of 40 “Champions” that serve as leaders and mentors to support the integration of the CMBM model within their facility. After receiving additional training and support from CMBM, Champions now provide peer mentoring and support, offer continuing education for all trained VISN 8 staff, and ensure that fidelity to the model is maintained across the VISN.
As part of program implementation, a critical mass of VISN 8 staff received their certification in Mind-Body Medicine from CMBM to serve as CMBM Faculty and train future Whole Health Coaches. In Fall 2021, VISN 8 held their first training led entirely by in-house Faculty—an important milestone indicating the sustainability of the program going forward.
After the introduction of CMBM’s model of self-care and mutual support into VISN 8’s Whole Health Coaching program, the 200 CMBM-trained Whole Health Coaches have reported a deepening in their own self-awareness and improvement in their own self-care. Through experiencing CMBM’s training programs and leading their own Mind-Body Skills Groups for traumatized, depressed, and anxious veterans, VISN 8’s Whole Health Coaches also reported increased confidence, skill, and commitment to supporting their veteran “brothers and sisters,” and have felt a heightened sense of satisfaction and purpose.
VISN 8 is also collecting data for clinical studies on the model, which, at the Southeast Louisiana VA, demonstrated significant improvements in PTSD, anger, and sleep disturbance in combat-traumatized veterans whose mental health concerns were treatment-resistant.