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Whole Health

Our Whole Health approach empowers and equips you to take charge of your health, well-being, and quality of life. Whole Health goes beyond your illnesses, injuries, or disabilities, and focuses instead on your values, goals, and overall health. It includes self-care and complementary therapies along with conventional medical care.

Our Whole Health program includes:

Acupuncture/Battlefield Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of several techniques that make up the system of care provided by those trained in traditional medicine from China and other Asian countries. Most frequently we think of acupuncture as the penetration of thin needles into the body at acupuncture points to effect a change. Acupuncture is used to restore or maintain health.

Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) is a limited auricular (ear) acupuncture protocol taught by the Veterans Health Administration and Department of Defense (DoD) for the purpose of pain management. Acupuncture and BFA are available through a referral to chiropractic care within Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services at VA Houston.

Chiropractic care

The chiropractic approach to health care is holistic. Natural drugless, non-surgical methods of chiropractic treatment rely on the body's inherent recuperative abilities to promote healing. Chiropractic care restores, improves, and maintains your function, activity, and health. Acupuncture and massage therapy are also available within the chiropractic clinic.

Learn more about chiropractic care at VA Houston

Equine-assisted therapy for trauma

Whole Health has partnered with Sunny Creek Ranch, a Veteran-operated local ranch offering “Horses for Heroes,” an Eagala-certified Equine Assisted Psychotherapy program. “Horses for Heroes” helps Veterans to reconnect, de-stress, and communicate more effectively through the horse-human connection.

Through a VA grant and other funding, Sunny Creek Ranch is able to offer this holistic healing service to Veterans, first responders, and their immediate family members at no cost. Veterans can connect with this service through the Whole Health consult, or by calling Sunny Creek Ranch directly. 

Learn more about “Horses for Heroes” at Sunny Creek Ranch

Introduction to Whole Health

In this two-hour introductory orientation to Whole Health, Veterans explore their mission, aspiration, and purpose with the guidance of a Veteran Whole Health Coach or Partner. Veterans have the opportunity to learn about using a Whole Health approach in their own lives, and to begin making a plan to support their health and well-being based on what matters to them.

When: Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.
Where: Join WebEx meeting
How to Join: No appointment needed! Request a calendar invitation through a Whole Health consult, or click the link above to join the class directly. 

LGBTQ+ well-being

VA Houston’s LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinator team and Whole Health have partnered to offer classes supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Veterans’ well-being and personal development. These classes are virtual and open to all Veterans.

Pride and Courage: 75-minute group providing education and support to all Veterans identifying as LGBTQ+. The focus of this group is supporting all LGBTQ+ Veterans in living their fullest lives as their authentic selves.

When: Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Where: Zoom platform, by referral
How to Join: Contact Hiram Rivera-Mercado, PsyD at 281-217-9028 or Hiram.Rivera-Mercado@va.gov

Bravely Becoming Real: 90-minute group providing education and supporting ongoing personal development for transgender and gender-diverse Veterans. This group incorporates elements of Whole Health to support Veterans in connecting with and caring for themselves, and in living their lives in alignment with what matters most to them.

When: Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Where: Zoom platform, by referral
How to Join: Contact Mallorie Carroll, PhD at 281-796-2849 or Mallorie.Carroll@va.gov

LGBTQ+ Parent/Guardian Group: This group is designed for any Veteran who provides any type of care to a youth/child who identifies as LGBTQ+. The purpose of this group is to provide parents/caregivers/guardians with resources, support, and skills in order to affirming of LGBTQ+ identities.

When: Not currently scheduled, but referrals welcome
Where: Virtual
How to Join: Contact LaVonya Bennett, PhD at 281-684-1137 or LaVonya.Bennett@va.gov

Learn more about LGBTQ+ Veteran care at VA Houston. 

Massage Therapy

Clinical massage therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the human body for therapeutic purposes. Based in ancient traditions, massage therapy is a professional health care discipline in the United States.
Massage therapy is available through community referral from chiropractic care within Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services at VA Houston.

Meditation and mindfulness training

These classes are virtual, live, and interactive.

Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop: 60-minute workshop offering an overview of mindfulness and its benefits, opportunities to try out mindfulness exercises, and resources on ways to begin a mindfulness practice or to go deeper after the workshop. No appointment needed.

When: 1st Tuesday of every month, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
WhereJoin WebEx meeting
Meeting Number: 2762 450 9480
Passcode: umGjgeu@325
Dial in: Join by video system. Dial 27624509480@veteransaffairs.webex.com. You can also dial 207.182.190.20 and enter the meeting number.
Join by phone1-404-397-1596 (USA toll number)
Access code: 2762 450 9480
Sign up: No appointment needed! Follow the link above to join the class directly, or email Shannon.Sisco@va.gov for an iCalendar invitation. This workshop can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult.
Questions?
 Contact Shannon Sisco at 832-438-0454

Meditation class: Free virtual meditation class on Tuesdays. 

When: Tuesdays, 12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
WhereJoin ZoomGov meeting
Meeting ID: 161 356 5738
Passcode: 567159
Dial in: 1-669-254-5252
Sign up: No appointment needed!
Questions? Contact Jordyn Forsyth at 713-791-1414, ext. 26166.

Four-Week Mindfulness group: Virtual mindfulness group open to all Veterans by appointment.

When: Tuesdays, 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Sign up: Contact Sharanya Udipi at 281-578-4600

Healthy teaching kitchen

Making healthy food choices is the number one thing you can do for your health. Learning how to cook can be one step toward getting healthier foods on your plate. The Healthy Teaching Kitchen (HTK) provides live, virtual cooking classes to learn more about nutrition, cooking skills, and to build your confidence in cooking healthy meals from minimally processed foods at home.

When: 3rd Thursday of every month, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: VA Video Connect
Sign Up: Contact Michelle Ivy at 713-791-1414, ext. 24295.

Integrative headache clinic

The Integrative Headache Clinic within the department of Neurology provides holistic, Whole Health-informed clinical care for the treatment of chronic headaches and migraine headaches. Request a Neurology Headache Clinic consult to access these services.

Life skills workshops

The ACT on Health Lab at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center offers the following workshops teaching life skills to strengthen well-being and relationships. They are free to attend, and will be held either online via Zoom or at a local community center, Vet Center or VA.

Wellness and Enhancing Life Workshop: A One-day Veteran-only workshop aimed at teaching skills that help to improve everyday life, and skills that help with adjustment to civilian life. Each workshop will include 5-8 other Veterans.

Strengthening Relationships Couple’s Workshop: A one-day workshop designed for Veterans and their partners. This workshop was developed in response to feedback from Veterans who asked for the opportunity to invite their spouses or partners to workshops that would help them learn new skills, techniques, and information that would enhance and build a stronger relationship. The workshop will include 3-5 other veterans with their partners.

For more information about either of these workshops, contact Ken Woods at 713-440-4612.

Both workshops are part of research projects supported by the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt) at Baylor College of Medicine, and funded by the VA Office of Rural Health, supporting Veterans in rural communities. As part of the research, participants will be asked to complete some surveys and will be compensated for that time.

MOVE! weight management

MOVE! is a weight-management program designed to help you live a longer, healthier life. With the help of your MOVE! care team, you can eat a healthier diet, get more exercise, reduce your health risks, and improve your quality of life. 

Learn more about MOVE! weight management at VA Houston.

Ompractice

Ompractice is a digital well-being platform that has partnered with Houston VA Whole Health to provide a wide variety of virtual wellness classes at no cost to Veterans and employees. Yoga, Tai Chi, mindfulness, breathwork, yoga nidra, sound meditation, and other wellness classes are available all day every day, from early morning through evening hours. Ompractice offers Veteran-only classes, and also classes led by instructors who are Veterans themselves. Register for a free account at the link below.

Learn more about Ompractice virtual wellness classes.

Spiritual health and resilience

Rays of Hope Spiritual Group: This spiritual resilience program, led virtually by Maine VA's Chaplain Jacob, provides a sacred space to help Veterans develop their sense of meaning and purpose. Each session offers exploration into one of 12 spiritual themes. Sessions will include:

  • Active listening and generous sharing
  • Reassurance without over-emphasizing hope unrealistically
  • Accompaniment to derive perspectives

Click here to join the Rays of Hope Group directly on Wednesdays at 1 pm CT via WebEx

When: Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
WhereJoin WebEx meeting
Meeting ID: 161 356 5738
Passcode: 567159
Dial in: 14043971596 USA Toll Number 
Sign up: No appointment needed! Open to all Veterans.
Questions? Contact Chaplain Jacob at Jacob.George@va.gov or 207-623-8411 ext. 5176.

Tai Chi

Whole Health offers 60-minute virtual Tai Chi classes twice a week which are open to all Veterans. Classes are live and interactive through VA WebEx. They are led by Chase Fortuno, a partner with Synergy Federal Services.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that today is practiced as a graceful form of mindful movement. It involves a series of movement performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing. Each posture flows into the next without pause, keeping your body in constant motion. These classes are accessible to Veterans with physical limitations who are medically stable, and the instructor is prepared to offer modifications for a wide range of mobility levels.

When: Tuesdays, 3:00 p.m.
WhereJoin Tuesday 3:00 p.m. WebEx meeting

When: Thursdays, 6:00 p.m.
Where:  Join Thursday 6:00 p.m. WebEx meeting

How to Join: No appointment needed!

Follow the links above to join the class directly, or email Shannon.Sisco@va.gov for an iCalendar invitation. These classes and others can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult.

Questions?
 Contact Shannon Sisco at 832-438-0454 or Shannon.Sisco@va.gov.

Taking charge of my life and health

Taking Charge of My Life and Health is a nine week Whole Health facilitated course that helps you do exactly that: take charge of your health and well-being. This course takes Veterans on a journey into the Circle of Health (see below), exploring what matters to you, and discovering your personal mission, aspiration, and purpose in life. This course also allows for a “deeper dive” into the 8 areas of self-care. The facilitator will guide you in creating goals and action plans, and will support you as you work toward those goals.

When: Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Where: Virtual via WebEx
How to Join: Request a Whole Health consult from your healthcare team to join the next available class.

whole health wheel graphic

Tobacco Cessation

VA Houston’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program offers 60-minute virtual or phone-based group support for quitting tobacco, led by a health behavior expert. Feel free to dopr in any time, no referral required. There is no co-pay for attending.

Need extra support during the week?

Call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838), 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., Monday-Friday to speak to a tobacco quit coach in English or Spanish. QuitVET connects Veterans to a trained counselor who can help develop a quit plan and provide ongoing counseling and support.

Prefer to text or find support online?

  • Text VET (or VETesp for Spanish) to 47848 to receive texts with tips and tools to beat cravings.
  • Text URGE, STRESS, SMOKED, or DIPPED to 47848 for extra support.
  • Follow the SmokefreeVET Facebook page for tips and encouragement from other Veterans.
  • Download Stay Quit Coach, VA’s interactive quit tobacco app. Available for IOS or Android in your app store.
  • Find more VA resources on how to quit.

For more information, please contact Dr. Zina Peters at 281-797-8662.

Learn more about Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at VA Houston

Whole Health maternity care

These classes are virtual, live, and interactive through VA WebEx.

Provides well-being classes for new and expecting mothers in prenatal yoga therapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Resilient Relationships for mothers and their partners navigating the relationship changes that come with welcoming a new family member. All classes are virtual and open to any pregnant Veteran enrolled at MEDVAMC. Contact Shannon Sisco at 832-438-0454 for details.

Yoga

Yoga is a mindful movement practice originating in India. It brings together the mind and body by incorporating breathing and meditation with movements and body poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. These classes are accessible to Veterans with physical limitations who are medically stable, and the instructor is prepared to offer modifications for a wide range of mobility levels.

Yoga for wellness

Whole Health offers 60-minute virtual yoga for wellness classes 5 times a week, which are open to all Veterans. Classes are live and interactive through VA WebEx. They are led by Kelly Sauls and Traci Hoffman, partners with Synergy Federal Services.

While there are several kinds of yoga, these classes emphasize relaxation and are less physically-rigorous than yoga for fitness. These classes are accessible to Veterans with physical limitations who are medically stable, and the instructors are prepared to offer modifications for a wide range of mobility levels.

When: Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m.
WhereJoin Tuesday 11 am WebEx meeting

When: Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m.
Where Join Wednesday 5:30 pm WebEx meeting

When: Thursdays, 1:30 p.m.
Where:  Join Thursday 1:30 pm WebEx meeting

When: Fridays, 2:00 p.m.
WhereJoin Friday 2 pm WebEx meeting

When: Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.
WhereJoin Saturday 10 am WebEx meeting

How to Join: No appointment needed!

Follow the links above to join the class directly, or email Shannon.Sisco@va.gov for an iCalendar invitation. These classes and others can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult.

Questions?
 Contact Shannon Sisco at 832-438-0454 or Shannon.Sisco@va.gov.

Yoga therapy

While all yoga is potentially therapeutic, yoga therapy applies yogic tools (breathwork, movement, meditation) to heal the mind-body system for specific medical or mental health conditions. Yoga therapists train for 1000 hours or complete a Master’s in yoga in order to provide treatment-based yoga.

Yoga Therapy for Trauma is virtual class designed for mind-body healing after trauma. It is open to all Veterans who are recovering from trauma.

When: Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m.
WhereJoin Wednesday 12:00 p.m. WebEx meeting

When: Fridays at 12:00 p.m.
WhereJoin Friday 12:00 p.m. WebEx meeting

How to Join: No appointment needed! Follow the links above to join the class directly, or email Shannon.Sisco@va.gov for an iCalendar invitation. These classes and others can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult.

Yoga Therapy for Headaches is available through the Integrative Headache Clinic, and includes both individual and group yoga therapy sessions designed to alleviate chronic headaches and migraine headaches. Request an Integrative Headache Clinic consult to access these services.

Yoga Nidra or iRest is a group yoga therapy class sponsored by the Integrative Headache Clinic, and is ideally suited as a complementary offering for Veterans with chronic headaches, PTSD, trauma, pain or stress. It is open to any interested Veteran. It is a meditative class with no movement or stretching. No special tools or materials are required. Participants can be in a comfortable seated position or laying down during the class.

When: Fridays at 1:00 p.m.
WhereJoin WebEx meeting
How to Join: No appointment needed!

iRest was developed by Dr. Richard Miller in 2003 as part of a request by Walter Reed Army Medical Center to study the effects of the ancient yoga practice of Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) in facilitating healing for military personnel and veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).    Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) in modern usage is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, typically induced by a guided meditation. 

According to the iRest Institute, "Yoga Nidra is a process of meditative self-inquiry derived from the teachings of yoga.  Yoga comprises a vast array of techniques designed to bring about first-hand knowing of who and what you actually are when you are free of psychological, cultural, and philosophical conditioning."  iRest is "designed to bring the healing benefits of yogic and meditative practices to a wide variety of people", and "based on current studies in the military the Defense Centers of Excellence has approved iRest as a Complementary and Alternative medicine warranting continuing research for its use in the treatment of PTSD.  In addition, the U.S. Army Surgeon General has listed Yoga Nidra (based on research with iRest) as a Tier 1 approach for addressing Pain Management in Military Care.”

Integrative Headache Clinic Light Mobility Yoga is a group yoga therapy class sponsored by the Integrative Headache Clinic (IHC).  Veterans must go through the IHC to be assigned to this group class.

The Light Mobility class involves light movement and stretching, targeting areas that typically contribute to headaches and migraines (such as neck and back), as well as relaxation practices. The goal is to relieve tension and pain in the areas that contribute to the development of migraines and headaches, and to continue breathwork and relaxation practices as  part of headache and migraine mitigation.

For more information about the Integrative Headache Clinic (IHC) Yoga Therapy, contact Dr. Archana Purushotham, Kelly Oxios-Sauls (C-IAYT)  at Kelly.Sauls1@va.gov  , or Jennifer Bell (C-IAYT) at Jennifer.Bell@va.gov.

 

Contact us

For more information on Whole Health or enrolling in Whole Health services, contact: 

Shannon Sisco
Whole Health Coordinator
832-438-0454