Sharing Whole Health: Peer-to-Peer
What matters most to you? On the pathway to Whole Health, this is THE question. While the question may seem simple, for Navy Veteran David Muniz, it was life changing.
“My Whole Health journey started in 2005 when I hit rock bottom,” said Mr. Muniz. “I didn’t like myself. The worst thing someone could do was leave me alone with myself sober. It was at that point that I knew I needed to get better living or get busy dying. Living Whole Health saved my life.”
What is Whole Health?
Whole Health is VA’s holistic approach to care that supports Veterans’ health and well-being. Whole Health centers around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. This means your health team will get to know you as a person before working with you to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs and goals.
“Historically, people have tried to heal people by separating the body and the mind, and for me that approach did not work,” said Mr. Muniz. “I realized that I needed to make some changes that were deeper than just my mental illness and substance abuse. I needed to dig deep and learn new tools to get to the core of how I was feeling, so that I could better address it.”
This quest led Mr. Muniz to VA where he worked with Whole Health coaches and peer facilitators who helped him complete his Personal Health Inventory, create his Personal Health Plan and develop well-being skills.
“When I came into VA, they introduced me to the Whole Health wheel [Circle of Health], which helped me visualize every aspect of my care, recognize the power I hold in the center of it all and then tailor treatment to help me meet my goals,” said Mr. Muniz.
Whole Health is not a one size fits all approach. Each person’s journey is different depending on what they have experienced, where they are in their life and what they hope to accomplish. For some Veterans, well-being approaches such as yoga, aquatic therapy, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture or creative writing classes equip them with the tools they need to live their best lives.
“During my recovery, I relied heavily on meditation – quieting my mind to self-evaluate and think about the root cause of my actions; I met with my doctor and made note of what medications work best for me; I also fell in love with Hatha Yoga, which allowed me to move my body but with the intention of being mentally rooted,” said Mr. Muniz. “All of these things tied together to help me better understand myself.”
Whole Health is a fluid journey that ebbs and flows based on where you are at a particular time in your life. For Mr. Muniz, Whole Health meant more than just being sober, it also meant addressing childhood traumas and healing his younger self.
“As each of these elements began to connect for me, it took me to relationships in my childhood growing up – things I needed that I didn’t have. So, when I was learning to quiet my mind, I was able to realize I grew up with neglect, feeling invisible. Now, through Whole Health I can comfort that child,” said Mr. Muniz.
A Pathway Forward
Mr. Muniz has been clean and sober for eleven years and devotes his time to empowering clients to achieve their health and wellness goals as a Whole Health Coach at the Grand Junction VA.
“That’s the beautiful thing about Whole Health – most of the diseases we suffer and that I suffered from were because of life choices. I realized that if I corrected my life choices, I would live better,” said Mr. Muniz. “Whole Health coaching allows me to give Veterans a tool to look within themselves and find healing to the point where they pass it on.”
Whole Health is a lifelong journey that never ends. Through the eight elements of the Circle of Health, Veterans like Mr. Muniz work every day to take charge of their health and well-being so they can live their life to the fullest.
“I remember where I was, I know where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to go. Thanks to Whole Health, I can use that journey to help others,” said Mr. Muniz.
If you are not sure if Whole Health is right for you, Mr. Muniz says it’s simple, “Think deeply about what you want. Where do you think you are and where would you like to be physically, mentally and emotionally? No commitment – just two simple questions. When you are ready to make a change, Whole Health coaches like myself will be here to support and guide you.”
For more information on Whole Health and how you can get started on your journey, visit www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/index.asp.