The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Whole Health program is a holistic approach to health care that aims to improve the health and well-being of Veterans by addressing lifestyle and environmental causes of chronic disease. Whole Health involves looking at the whole person, not just parts of the body or a body system experiencing a health challenge. It’s also about putting you, the Veteran, at the center of your care by asking the question, “What matters to you most?” This approach allows your care team to get to know you as a person, including your concerns, values and needs, and incorporate that information into your care plan. Whole Health empowers you throughout your life to prioritize healthy lifestyle changes in areas like nutrition, physical activity, sleep, relationships and your surroundings.
Every Veteran’s life journey is different, depending on past experiences, where you are currently and your goals and aspirations for the future. By focusing on the whole person, Whole Health care can focus on restoring health, promoting resilience and preventing diseases across your lifespan. The Whole Health approach combines conventional testing and treatment with complementary and integrative health approaches (treatments that are not a part of mainstream medicine) that may include acupuncture, biofeedback, massage therapy, yoga and meditation.
From Care Seeker to Whole Health Coach
Through Whole Health, you can learn the skills needed to help achieve optimal health and wellness.
Navy Veteran David Muniz says that the Whole Health approach was life changing for him. In 2005, Mr. Muniz was experiencing some mental health and substance abuse challenges. Through Whole Health, he realized he needed to dig deeper and learn how to get to the root of his problems. At his local VA, he worked with Whole Health coaches and peer facilitators who helped him recognize the power he held in the center of his life.
Using tools provided by the Whole Health approach, including the Circle of Health, he took a Personal Health Inventory, created his Personal Health Plan and was able to better understand himself and develop the well-being skills he needed. Mr. Muniz is now a Whole Health Coach at the Grand Junction, Colorado, VA, devoting his time to empowering Veterans to achieve their health and wellness goals. Read his story and learn how he took charge of his health and well-being through Whole Health.
How to Get Started With Whole Health
Whole Health means thinking about and approaching your health in a new way by putting yourself at the center of your care. To get started, if you are already enrolled in VA health care, ask your primary care team about Whole Health. Two introductory courses are offered at VA facilities across the country where other Veterans will teach you about Whole Health practices and help you take steps to create your Personal Health Plan. To find a course, go to the VA directory and enter your location information. You can also check out VA’s Get Started with Whole Health web page, where you can watch an introductory video and read more about the program. Through Whole Health, you can become an integral participant in your health and well-being and learn the skills needed to help achieve optimal health and wellness.