ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The Roseburg VA Healthcare System has a new way to help veterans with healthcare, including battling chronic pain.
The National Veterans Affairs Office has been working with its campuses around the country to use alternative therapies to heal the mind and body. The Whole Health and Wellness program has been in the works for the better part of a decade.
Several campuses around the United States were selected as pilot sites for that program, but Roseburg isn’t one of them. However, they’ve developed a similar one and included programs for chronic pain management.
Jason Wilcox, the director of education and connection care at the Roseburg VA, said the Whole Health and Wellness program was developed as a way for the VA to heal the whole person, instead of just focusing on a specific issue.
“That program looks at all aspects of life, right? Because there’s so many things that impact our health and our happiness – all of that,” Wilcox said. “So, we want to look at a whole picture of the person.”
They have classes like yoga, a mindfulness program that includes meditation, discussion groups and chronic pain management programs.
The Roseburg VA Chief of Pharmacy Dan Neal said studies have shown the risks of long-term opioid use to treat chronic pain greatly outweigh the benefits. He said those risks are heightened in the veteran community.
“The veteran population is actually a four to five times higher risk of an accidental opioid overdose than the general population,” Neal said. “So that’s why it’s really important to us.”
Neal said directing patients to these wellness and chronic pain management classes instead of long-term opioid use has already shown results.
“One of the more common stories – and this I get from some of the physicians, some of the providers here – is that patients come back and they say I never realized how groggy or cloudy-headed I was until I got off the pain medicine,” Neal said.
The Roseburg VA also plans to introduce Tai Chi and it is developing programs called Whole Health Thrive and Empower Veterans to add to their Whole Health program in the future.
If you are a veteran and are interested in participating in these Whole Health and Wellness programs, talk to your primary care provider at your local VA campus.