Lifetime dedicated to military and Veterans’ health

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, MD, Ph.D., VHA’s Whole Health advisor, belongs to a multi-generational military family with a longstanding tradition of active duty service. Over the span of his military career, he held many assignments, including as practicing hematologist and, most notably, as 42nd surgeon general of the U.S. Army and commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command.

At the start of his career, the idea of Whole Health did not exist. He was first captivated by the idea of physical fitness and mental wellbeing during his time with the Army when he found solace in running. He also credits his wife for forging his interest in meditative mindfulness and the science behind complementary practices, such as acupuncture and yoga.

Transforming how we think about health

During the Chats with the Chief video, Schoomaker describes the concept of Whole Health. He quotes the VA website saying, “We are moving from what’s the matter with you to what matters to you.”

He emphasizes that health care is just one component of our overall health and wellbeing. Whole health involves every aspect of our lives, including our sense of purpose, how we see ourselves in our community, our state of mental health and whether we are spiritually grounded.

“All these factors are more strongly coordinated with our overall wellbeing,” he said.

Science behind Whole Health

Schoomaker notes that Whole Health incorporates complementary practices, including yoga, acupuncture and hiking, activities that increase our working memory, attentiveness and retention of information.

These activities are “tailored to the individual’s needs for wellbeing.” For instance, practicing mindfulness through meditative yoga can significantly reduce stress. Acupuncture and Tai Chi are extremely effective in reducing chronic pain when compared with prescriptive opioid treatments.

It starts with you, the Veteran

VA’s goal with Whole Health is to prevent Veterans from becoming patients by improving their overall wellbeing. Whole Health personalized programs begin at the transition from service, as Veterans prepare for a big life change.

Steps you, the Veteran, can take

“At the center of VA’s Whole Health programs is the Veteran’s own individual aspirations of their health and wellbeing,” Schoomaker described.

Veterans can reach out to trained individuals at their VA facility or they can complete a Personal Health Inventory self-assessment. This allows the VA health team to get to know the Veteran as a person before working with the individual to develop a personalized health plan based on their values, needs and goals. This way, VA is putting emphasis on individual aspirations of their health and wellbeing by identifying and enhancing their skills and strengths. The approach is “transformative, not just for VA, but for everyone,” Schoomaker said.

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7 Comments

  1. Dana Amick November 6, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    THE DUDE WHO SAID THEY JUST THROW PILLS AT YOU, IF THEY ARE PAIN PILLS YOU ARE ONE OF THE LUCKIEST MAN IN AMERICA BECAUSE I HAVE HAD 25 SURGERIES 4 HIP REPLACEMENTS, 9 BACK SURGERIES MY EYE SOCKETS AND NOSE REBUILT 3 TIMES AND CAN’T GET DCK. TX IS ONE OF THE MOST F/U STATES U COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE. THE GOVERNOR JUST PUT INTO LAW THAT DV PLATES CAN’T PARK IN HANDICAPPED SPOTS WITHOUT A PLACARD OR THE WHEELCHAIR EMBLEM ON HEM, SO U THINK HE GIVES 2 FARTS ABOUT US, NEITHER DO THE VA HEALTH, HOUSING VA LOAN PEOPLE. HOW CAN A DISABLED MAN GET HIS SCORES UP ALL ALONE IN THE WORLD TO THE LEVEL THAT WILL GET HIM APPROVED. THEY JUST DROPPED THE BOTTOM SCORE AND SAID IT WAS ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MADE AND IF YOU COULD AFFORD THE HOUSE REGARDLESS OF YOUR CREDIT..BS I GOT TURNED DOWN 2 DAYS BEFORE I WAS TO CLOSE FOR SOMESILLY SILLY SHT. BECAUSE MY DTI WAS BELOW 40 ON A $351,000 LOAN. AND TO TAKE HE WORD OF THE APARTMENTS THAT I LIVED-IN WHERE I PAID PERFECTLY OVER THE 3 CREDIT BUREAUS SHOWING I MADE ALL MY PAYMENTS ON TIME IS INSANE TO DENY ME ON THAT BASIS. THE VA NEEDS TO BE DISMANTLED AND NEW PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE ABILITY TO THINK LOGICALLY AND DRAW CONCLUSIONS NOT JUST CHECK BOXES OR NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE FOR THE DISABLED VETS. THEY GET LEFT SCRATCHING WHATS LEFT OF THEIR ASS WONDERING IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY. SICKENING just tried to post this and it is the 3rd time i have basically said the same thing , problem is it will take 3,000,00.0 before anybody helps the guys and gals who need it most so don’t censor me i fought for the first amendment

    [Editor: The VA home loan guaranty has no minimum credit requirement. VA is not a lender; only a lender can impose limits upon those to whom it will lend its money.]

  2. SGM Davids October 31, 2021 at 10:17 am

    I never get the point of this show. Some people at VA seem bored…..

  3. joseph l austin October 30, 2021 at 5:15 am

    Iam a 76 yo vet. Primary job or lab tech and pa. Since retirement in 1992 I have developed cis skin cancer and cll. Were can I go to get this addressed. It is data that could be of importance if it happens in a large number of vets.

  4. Holly Mullins October 28, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    I will believe this when I see it. I have never been given the care I was promised. They will not approve my lidocaine infusions that I was started on in the Navy hospital – because the pain management clinic manager doesn’t believe it’s necessary. He wants to throw more pills at me. I don’t want more pills – that give more side effects. I want to feel well! I have had to jump through flaming hoops for 3 years now to get acupuncture, and they still will only provide 24 visits per year even though my community care provider has said time and again that I need it every week. If I want to take the minimum amount of medications then I need 52 visits…so in order to be the master of my medical fate – I have to pay out of pocket for the other 28 visits per year. So much for being medically retired at 100% and expecting the VA to take care of me as they promised.

  5. Melinda October 27, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Sounds good on paper, not going to happen in reality. My va hospital doesn’t let veterans in anymore and when they do it’s grudgingly. We are the enemy and don’t belong there anymore. They think we need to allow every joe blow they “hire” to work the front door to have access to our medical records which is, as far as I’m concerned, a HIPAA violation, then they threaten anyone who defends their HIPAA rights with arrest because they won’t allow joe blow into their records.

    WHEN you decide we are not the enemy and WHEN you realize YOU are there to serve VETERANS then maybe it will happen. My va doesn’t even have qualified secretaries who know how to format a letter correctly so it has the correct and proper z fold. I can run rings around those idiots but I WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO HIRE! Must have been because I was OVERQUALIFIED! I didn’t get doodly from mediation either!!!!! F—ed over BECAUSE of my veteran status!

  6. Keisha Houston October 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Sorry not feeling well

  7. paul Anderson October 27, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    I am very thankful when the veterans mobile bus comes and parks at walmart in jasper,texas

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