La Mesa Rehab Staff.

Breathe Easier, Live Better: A Spotlight on Pulmonary Rehabilitation Within TriWest’s Community Care Network

“A patient’s physical condition affects their breathing,” she shared, “so we must address body pain, muscle strength, endurance and posture in addition to their lung function.”  

– Dr. Tami Peavy

Each day, TriWest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest) works alongside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure Veterans get the timely, high-quality health care they need and deserve. More than 60 million health care encounters have taken place through TriWest’s Community Care Network (CCN) in the last decade. It is a vast network of community health care professionals who partner with VA to provide care to Veterans in their local communities.

Within those millions of health care encounters in communities across VA CCN Regions 4 and 5 are dedicated community providers, like Dr. Tami Peavy, who work tirelessly to meet the unique health care needs of Veterans.

Meet Dr. Tami Peavy

Dr. Tami Peavy is a pulmonary physical therapist and a TriWest network provider who receives referrals from VA, local case managers and other health care providers to work with patients suffering from chronic respiratory disease.

Dr. Peavy’s interest in pulmonary rehabilitation started with the death of her father at age 72. Her father, a Navy Veteran, developed emphysema and eventually passed away from it, just one month before her son was born. Dr. Peavy watched her father suffer from the disease and felt helpless.

In the years that followed her father’s death, she became a physical therapist with a specialty in pulmonary rehabilitation. “My father didn’t have access to pulmonary rehabilitation services,” Dr. Peavy said. “If he had, he may have lived another 10-15 years, long enough to see his grandson grow up.”

Dr. Peavy’s interest in pulmonary rehabilitation only grew from there. She has been practicing within a pulmonary clinical setting since 2010. In 2017, she founded an outpatient rehabilitation facility that provides comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation, including respiratory therapy and physical therapy.

What is Pulmonary Therapy and Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary therapy and rehabilitation is a comprehensive intervention designed to improve the physical and psychological condition of people living with chronic respiratory disease, according to the National Library of Medicine. Pulmonary rehab works to reduce shortness of breath, eliminate mucus, and increase lung capacity through exercise, postural strengthening and breathing techniques. Dr. Peavy describes the approach this way: “It’s a blend of physical therapy and respiratory therapy. We look at the entire body and address all the things that cause shortness of breath and affect breathing, including pain, weakness, posture and lung function.”

Dr. Peavy’s team reviews each patient’s medication and medical history, checks their heart, oxygen level, lungs and vitals, and creates a tailored plan to get patients back to the activities they enjoy. Like VA’s Whole Health approach to health care, Dr. Peavy recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach.

“A patient’s physical condition affects their breathing,” she shared, “so we must address body pain, muscle strength, endurance and posture in addition to their lung function and regularly reassess the patient.”

According to research from the National Library of Medicine, pulmonary rehabilitation has many benefits for patients, including a decrease in shortness of breath, a reduction in depressive symptoms, an improvement in exercise capacity, and a decrease in the number of emergency visits and hospitalizations. Further research from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute finds additional benefits to pulmonary rehabilitation such as increased strength and an easier time managing daily routines, work and social activities.

Learn More About Your Risk for Respiratory Disease

Like many of the community care providers in TriWest’s network, Dr. Peavy provides health care services to many Veterans within her practice. She sees patients with a variety of lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, asthma, chemical exposures and long COVID. She noted that Veterans have an increased risk for respiratory conditions. According to the American Lung Association, Veterans typically have higher rates of exposure to hazardous conditions such as oil well fires, sand and dust particles, open-air burn pits and extreme temperatures – all of which increase their risk for developing lung disease.

Dr. Peavy recalled a Veteran patient diagnosed with COPD who was unable to play with his grandson, unable to get up off the floor. He began pulmonary rehabilitation and improved, and observed, “I have my life back,” she recalled.

With approximately 25% of Veterans being diagnosed with COPD, learning about the wide range of services available within VA and throughout TriWest’s Community Care Network is essential, so Veterans can get the care and treatment they deserve.


Dr. Peavy and her team are just one example of the work of thousands of health care providers within TriWest’s Community Care Network. This network, alongside VA, continues to provide high-quality health care services to Veterans when and where they need them.

Editor’s Note – Thank you to La Mesa Rehab for participating in this article, as just one of TriWest’s thousands of network providers caring for Veterans. If you are a network provider caring for Veterans, with a story about Veteran care to share, please email us at

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