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Health Care System Holds First Whole Health Veterans Week Walk

Muskogee VA Staff participate in the Whole Health Veterans Week Walk, a 2-kilometer walk to honor Veterans and promote the benefits of Whole Health.
Muskogee VA Staff participate in the Whole Health Veterans Week Walk, a 2-kilometer walk to honor Veterans and promote the benefits of Whole Health. Photo by Jenny Phipps.

Over 200 Eastern Oklahoma VA employees and Veterans participated in the first Whole Health Veterans Week Walk in November.

The Whole Health team for Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, who organized and hosted the event with support of fellow staff, invited employees to put on their walking shoes, sport their best yellow, and celebrate Veterans.

The walks were held in Muskogee, Tulsa, Vinita, and McAlester, with the focus being to honor Veterans while also promoting the benefits of moving the body.

Proclamations to declare the week as 'Veterans Appreciation Week' were signed by Mayor G.T. Bynum of Tulsa, and Mayor Marlon Coleman of Muskogee, who was present at the Muskogee walk to personally present the proclamation to leadership and walk in the event.

The program included welcome remarks by Whole Health, guest speakers, proclamation reading, and special demonstrations, before a 2-kilometer walk commenced for everyone who wished to join in the celebration and get some steps in.

In addition, snacks and refreshments were on hand to celebrate the occasion, along with yellow ribbons for employees and Veterans.

Dr. Uma Koduri served as one of the guest speakers in Tulsa and worked closely with the Whole Health team to facilitate the event at the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic.

"We are promoting 'Wear Yellow' for Whole Health and obesity awareness," said Koduri. "We chose the color yellow as it stands for hope, optimism, energy, motivation, joy and happiness."

Koduri, who had previously organized similar walks with much success, brought the idea for a Veteran Walk to the Whole Health Team, with the goal of bringing awareness to the impacts of obesity in the Veteran community.

The Whole Health team loved the idea and got to work collaborating with other services and staff to expand the idea into a Whole Health event, honoring both Dr. Koduri’s vision and Veterans served at EOVAHCS. 

Joan McWilliams, Whole Health Coordinator, says the team is looking forward to doing more in the future.

“This year was just the beginning," said McWilliams. "We are looking forward to expanding these types of Whole Health-focused events.”

Dr. Nathan Williams, Whole Health clinical director, was excited to see the amount of participation throughout the health care system and grateful for everyone involved.

"We had such a wonderful turnout," said Williams. "It was a meaningful time for our facility to be able to focus on those who have given so much for our nation.

"Veterans Appreciation Week will be in place each year ‘hereto forth’, as was stated in the proclamations, so we are already looking forward to building an even greater event next year.

"We want to thank everyone who participated, and we hope it was as meaningful for them as it was for the Whole Health team."