A smoker for 55 years, John Crawford didn’t start feeling the effects of the habit until age 77– about six months ago. With an increase in shortness of breath and a nagging cough, Crawford remembered his primary care physician telling him about a smoking cessation class at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C.
“I couldn’t even go to the mailbox and back without stopping to catch my breath. It was that bad,” said Crawford. “The severe ‘smoker’s cough’ and shortness of breath scared me. I had never tried to quit. I thought I was immune to smoking problems.”
Crawford began attending the smoking cessation class at the medical center each Tuesday. He is proud to say that he is now six months smoke-free and that he found support through the education and classmates who shared Tuesday afternoons with him, as pictured in the photo above.
The classes are led by Kathy McCormick, substance abuse coordinator. She offers reminders on the hazards of smoking as well as information on various medical aids that are available to assist in kicking the habit.
“Mr. Crawford came to smoking cessation with the belief that he was giving up his best friend,” said McCormick. “As he shared and listened to others in the group, he came to believe that this was something he could do and wanted to do. The smoking cessation group was designed to decrease barriers for Veterans wanting to quit smoking. The group is an open door group where Veterans are provided with education, motivation and rewards for their progress.”
After just two weeks in the program Crawford was already realizing the positive effects of being smoke free. A family trip to the Brookgreen Gardens required a substantial amount of walking to get around and view the art, history and zoo. Crawford was surprised to find that his breathing and cough were already improving and he was able to enjoy that time with his family.
“I have found the whole experience of quitting to be much easier than I anticipated,” said Crawford. “I am getting support from my family and classmates and my health has already improved significantly.”
Click here for additional resources available to Veterans who want to quit smoking.