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Whole Health

Empowering Veterans, their families, and staff to take ownership of their health and well-being by providing hope, compassion, and education. To make an appointment with Whole Health, please call 678-938-8786 or 404-321-6111, ext. 413159.

Self-Care with Power of the Mind

Our thoughts are powerful and can affect our physical, mental, and emotional health. Practicing mindful awareness helps you use the connection between your body and mind.


What is Whole Health?

Whole Health, It Starts With Me

Whole Health is VA’s approach to care that supports your 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 to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals.

Why is VA changing the way health care is provided?

Health outcomes in our country are poor; the US is now ranked 32nd in life expectancy, despite spending far more on health care than any other country. It is time to create a health system, rather than a disease care system; one that empowers and equips Veterans to discover a new path to health and well-being.

How is Whole Health different?

Whole Health puts you in control of your care. It focuses on self-care, skill-building, and support. These services are not diagnosis or disease based but support the personal health plan of each Veteran. Approaches such as stress reduction, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, nutrition, acupuncture, and health coaching are available. You don’t have to wait until something is wrong to improve your well-being. Whole Health encourages you to set goals based on what is important to you and work toward those goals with your health team.

Will Whole Health help me?

Studies show Veterans who use Whole Health services report being able to manage stress better and note the care they receive as being more patient-centered. Veterans with chronic pain who used Whole Health services had a threefold reduction in opioid use compared to those who did not. Veterans report that pain management is not the only benefit of using Whole Health services. They are having success with weight loss, improved mental health as well as better vital signs and diagnostic test results because their goals focused on the eight self-care areas of the Circle of Health.

A whole health approach believes that your health goals should be based on your own values and desires. Getting to know you and what is important to you is an essential step to personalizing your care.

The most important ingredient to good health is how you take care of yourself. Waiting for health issues to appear and then seeking treatment is an outdated version of care. Therefore, whole health is also about learning skills and strategies to take care of yourself throughout your life to maximize wellbeing. This may include learning about nutrition, meditation, moving the body (i.e. yoga & tai chi), and developing healthy relationships.

Your healthcare should begin and end with what matters to you. The whole health approach empowers you to make collaborative decisions with your providers to set shared goals that directly inform the intervention and care you receive.

Learn about the Circle of Health

Use the circle to help you think about your whole health.

“Me” at the Center. Whole Health accounts for each individual’s story and uniqueness. Patients are invited to explore what really, really matters to them their life aspirations, not just their symptoms. That exploration guides goal setting for their care. To make a change, people have to be aware of what they need.
Mindful Awareness. Central to mindful awareness is the ability to be fully aware and present in a non-judgmental way. This means noticing symptoms, as well as noticing our behavior and thought patterns, and how they affect our health. Mindful awareness is about noticing what is happening when it happens.
Self-Care. Your everyday actions make up the green circle. Your options and choices may be affected by many factors. Whole Health emphasizes the power of each individual to shape his/her health. Each of us has the innate capacity to heal, if only we are empowered to do so. Even people who cannot be cured, who cannot make their diseases go away, can experience a deeper sense of meaning, peace, joy, or comfort.
Professional Care.  While self-care is fundamental, all of us also rely on the support of others, including our team of health care professionals. Professional care focuses on tests, medications, treatments, surgeries, and counseling, and includes complementary approaches like acupuncture and yoga.
Community. The outer ring includes the people, places, and resources in your community. Community refers to the spaces in which we live, the resources we have available to us day-to-day, and our relationships with others in our broader environment. It includes where a person lives, works, worships, and more. It includes all the people and groups a person connects with; it is everyone a Veteran relies on, as well as those who rely on him or her in return. Community also connects with social determinants of health, such as education, socioeconomic status, and access to care. From public health to health policy to quality improvement initiatives, many different factors shape health beyond the personal level. Just as there is a “Whole Me” at the center of the circle, there is a “Whole We” that enfolds it. This “We” can extend beyond individuals to social services, support groups, neighborhoods, culture, religious groups, Veteran organizations, and local and national health care systems.

Getting Started

Whole Health Introduction is a one-time, 2-hour class that introduces Veterans to eight key areas that impact our health and well-being (e.g. nutrition, relationships, moving the body). This class also teaches steps to take back control of your health and well-being and begins a process of self-reflection about what is most important to you.

Taking Charge of My Life and Health is a class that walks you through the process of reflecting on what you want your health for and what changes may be needed to reach your goals. In this process, you will learn how to set specific goals that maximize your chance of success.

Whole Health Introduction and Taking Charge of My Life and Health are taught by trained fellow Veterans.

Skill Building Classes are offered in a variety of areas that provide information and skills for self-care and personal growth. You can pick the classes to match your personal goals for your health and well-being.

Meet the Whole Health Team


Brown-Johnson, Stephanie

Dr. Stephanie Brown-Johnson

Physician, Primary Care

VA Atlanta health care

Schmertz, Stefan

Dr. Stefan Schmertz

Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health

VA Atlanta health care

Dr. Alice Fann

Physician, Anesthesiology

VA Atlanta health care

Kelly Fripps, MSHS, BSN, RN-BC

Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program Manager

VA Atlanta health care

Contact us

To learn more, please contact the Atlanta VA Whole Health Program at:

Phone: 678-938-8786 or 404-321-6111, ext. 413159