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.
Whole Health is a unique initiative in that services are offered both within our Well-Being Program, and also across various settings throughout VA. Whole Health services that are offered outside of our dedicated Whole Health Program, by other clinical service areas, are identified by an asterisk (*).
Getting Started: The Pathway
The Pathway component of Whole Health empowers Veterans to discover what really matters to them through mindful self-exploration of their mission, aspiration, and purpose or MAP. The Pathway also invites Veterans to set personal goals that allow them to be actively engaged in living their fullest and healthiest life.
The Pathway isn’t a specific physical location, but rather a set of Whole Health program and supportive services provided by trained and qualified fellow Veteran partners, designed to help Veterans begin and maintain their journey to well-being.
Introduction to Whole Health
In this 2-hour introductory workshop, 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, explore Whole Health resources, and begin making a plan to support their health and well-being based on what matters to them.
When: Mondays 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. (in person)
Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. (VA Video Connect)
Thursdays 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. (VA Video Connect)
How to Join: Contact us by emailing VHAHOU_WholeHealth_Pathway@va.gov, calling 713-770-1548 or requesting a Whole Health consult to join the next available Introduction to Whole Health workshop. Classes are available virtually or in person, morning or evening.
Personal Health Planning
Whole Health includes all areas of health: body, mind, personal development, community and surroundings, spirit and soul, relationships, sleep, and nutrition. In Personal Health Planning, a Veteran Whole Health Partner invites you to explore these areas of your life, and to reflect on what matters most to you using a Personal Health Inventory. They will also guide you in developing a plan for your health that fits your vision and values – and this plan is shared with your healthcare team.
How to Connect with a Whole Health Partner for Personal Health Planning: Contact us to get started by emailing VHAHOU_WholeHealth_Pathway@va.gov or calling 713-770-1548, or by requesting a Whole Health consult from your healthcare team.
Taking Charge of My Life and Health
Taking Charge of My Life and Health is a nine week Whole Health course facilitated by Veterans, for Veterans. The class helps you do exactly as its name suggests: 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 Veteran facilitator will guide you in creating goals and action plans, and will support you as you work toward those goals.
Learn more about this and other Veteran-to-Veteran Whole Health classes here: The Pathway To Whole Health - YouTube
When: Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. or Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Where: VA Video Connect
How to Join: Contact us by emailing VHAHOU_WholeHealth_Pathway@va.gov or calling 713-770-1548. This class and others can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult from your healthcare team.
The Well-Being Program is designed to equip Veterans with the skills to move toward living their healthiest and fullest life. The Well-Being Program includes resources such as health and wellness coaching, well-being classes and workshops, meditation and mindfulness training, Tai Chi, yoga, and mind-body skills groups. This website also lists well-being resources that are offered through other services at MEDVAMC including Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, LGBTQ+ Health, Nutrition and Food Services, and Chaplain Service among others.
Health and Wellness Coaching
Whole Health includes all areas of health: body, mind, personal development, community and surroundings, spirit and soul, relationships, sleep, and nutrition. Health and wellness coaches partner with you in exploring these areas to help you live your best life. They support you in focusing on goals, identifying your strengths and values, finding motivation, and working toward what matters most to you.
If you’re not sure about your goals yet, your coach can help you find an area to focus on. Coaching is available to all Veterans enrolled in VA, at no cost.
Learn more about Health and Wellness Coaching here: Whole Health Coaching - YouTube
How to Connect with a Whole Health Coach: Contact us to get started by emailing VHAHOU_WholeHealth_Pathway@va.gov, calling 713-770-1548, or by requesting a Whole Health consult from your healthcare team.
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 Nutrition and Food Services at 713-791-1414, ext. 224294 or ext. 242222.
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
A 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.
Gender Group: 60-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.
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.
Meditation and mindfulness training
These classes are virtual, live, and interactive. Try out a brief mindfulness exercise here: #LiveWholeHealth: Mindful Awareness - YouTube
Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop
A 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.
Where: Join WebEx meeting
Meeting Number: 2762 450 9480
Dial in: Join by video system. Dial email@example.com. You can also dial 22.214.171.124 and enter the meeting number.
Join by phone: 1-404-397-1596 (USA toll number)
Access code: 2762 450 9480
Sign up: No appointment needed! Follow the link above to join the class directly or contact us by emailing VHAHOU_WholeHealth_Pathway@va.gov or calling 713-770-1548 for an iCalendar invitation. This class and others can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult.
Questions? Contact us directly at VHAHOU_WholeHealth_Pathway@va.gov or 713-770-1548.
Free virtual meditation class on Tuesdays.
When: Tuesdays, 12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Where: Join ZoomGov meeting
Meeting ID: 161 356 5738
Dial in: 1-669-254-5252
Sign up: No appointment needed!
Questions? Contact Jordyn Forsyth at 713-791-1414, ext. 226166.
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
Spanish-Language Mindfulness Workshop
When: Tue. Feb 6, 2024, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT
To welcome and support our Spanish-speaking caregivers and Veterans, Houston VA Whole Health holds a virtual Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop led entirely in Spanish twice per year. Join Jorge Ruiz, LCSW, for an introduction to mindfulness and its benefits, including guided mindfulness practices and resources for developing a practice of your own.
Unirse desde este enlace de reunión
Únete por teléfono: 1-404-397-1596 Número de reunion (Código de acceso): 2762 450 9480
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.
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.
Spirit and Soul*
Whole-person spiritual and pastoral care, tailored to Veterans’ individual needs, are available through the Chaplain Service at MEDVAMC, including 1) discussion of spiritual needs and desires, 2) addressing spiritual injuries, and 3) enhancing personal spiritual health. Spiritual and pastoral care services emphasize the balance of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of human experience.
Whole Health offers 30 and 45 minute Tai Chi classes four times a week, which are open to all Veterans. Virtual classes (Monday/Wednesday/Thursday) are live and interactive through VA WebEx. In-person classes on Tuesdays are held on the main VA campus in Houston. Classes are led by Jacob Glassmeyer, Whole Health Wellness Instructor.
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: Mondays, 2:00 p.m. (45 minutes)
Where: Join Monday 2:00 p.m. WebEx meeting
When: Tuesdays, 8:15 a.m. (30 minutes)
Where: Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Building 108A, Room 129
When: Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. (45 minutes)
Where: Join Wednesday 9:30 a.m. WebEx meeting
When: Thursdays, 6:00 p.m. (30 minutes)
Where: Join Thursday 6:00 p.m. WebEx meeting
How to Join: No appointment needed!
Follow the link above to join the class directly or call 713-770-1548 for an iCalendar invitation. This class and others can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult.
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 drop 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.
Whole Health maternity care
Whole Health Maternity programming provides well-being classes for new and expecting mothers. Offerings include prenatal yoga therapy, health and wellness coaching during pregnancy, and Resilient Relationships classes for mothers and their partners, which focus on navigating the relationship changes that come with welcoming a new family member.
Prenatal yoga classes are offered virtually at 7:00 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays via WebEx. Health coaching and Resilient Relationships classes are available virtually or in person at the MEDVAMC hospital. All Whole Health Maternity services are open to any pregnant Veteran enrolled at MEDVAMC.
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 in the gray
This yogic session focuses on the union of opposites, represented by the color gray, neutrality. Through the body, we can choose equanimity, or balance, a primary principle in yoga. In this session you will invite your attention to focus on a tight muscle, spending more time opening and relaxing the tension, while balancing its complementary opposite. Leave the session feeling refreshed, balanced, and clear. Join us on an empowering journey of self-discovery and well-being.
When: Mondays at 8:15 a.m. (45 minutes)
Where: Join Mondays at 8:15 a.m. WebEx meeting
Skill Level: Beginner-Intermediate
Focus: Mental-Emotional-Physical Harmony
Yoga in the red
This practice teaches you to consciously direct your individual desires, symbolically the red root of the material world. This yoga encourages you to take full responsibility for your actions. The personal awareness developed in this practice will empower you to make better and maybe even the best choice you can in other activities.
Visualization and mindfulness will carry you from one yoga pose to another. This session increases stamina, releases mental barriers, and develops composure, so that you can sit calmly in a meeting, drive peacefully in traffic, and listen heartfully to your loved ones without losing your cool.
When: Tuesdays at 11 a.m. (45 minutes)
Where: Join Tuesdays at 11 a.m. WebEx meeting
Skill Level: Beginner-Intermediate
Restore your vitality with Qigong and Yoga. In this class, we harness Qi in the environment to energize our cells, clear our minds, and rekindle our spirits. You will be asked to hold poses for longer, stronger periods of time. This yoga calls for both mental and physical stamina, challenging participants to sculpt, refine, and harmonize. Embark on a journey to renew and balance your energy in this invigorating experience.
When: Thursdays at 11 a.m. (45 minutes)
Where: Join Thursdays at 11 a.m. WebEx meeting
Skill Level: Intermediate-Advanced
Focus: Strength, Flexibility, & Energy
Yoga in the black
In this restorative yoga practice, we enter space, the deep dark black tapestry that supports the entire universe. Here, we allow ourselves to surrender, shedding both inner and outer judgements, moving deeper into compassion and understanding. During this session, you can expect to spend your time in long periods of relaxation, as we move gently into and out of various restorative poses.
When: Every other Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (60 minutes)
Where: Join other Saturday at 10:30 a.m. WebEx meeting
Skill Level: Beginner-Intermediate
Focus: Nurturing, Restoration
On-Site Yoga & Qigong Offerings at Houston VA
Hun Yuan Qigong
HunYuan Qigong is a gongfa practice focused on the cultivation of vitality through nurturance by the original nature. In symbolism, it is a restorative form that returns one to be receptive of complete support – like being returned to the womb, allowing for vital restoration.
It is the foundation for Li, the application of force. It is an ideal form for recovery from chronic, inflammatory patterns, such as cancer. We welcome you to return to you and feel the deep nourishment of this practice. This session is held in the main building. Take the green elevators to the 4th floor Cancer Center conference room.
When: Wednesdays at 8 a.m. (60 minutes)
Where: Cancer Center Conference Room in the Houston VA main building. Take the green elevators to 4th floor.
Skill Level: Beginner+
Focus: Restoration and Detox of Bodily Systems
If you have any questions, please contact Anne Bartell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yoga for balance
From injuries to regular wear and tear, we lose balance between our paired limbs and/or muscles, causing low back instability, chronic neck pain, and ankle to knee problems. This session is for you if you want to improve flexibility of mind and body, while restoring and healing the imbalances in your tissues. You can expect a kind, yet challenging series of poses that will aid in your overall performance.
When: Wednesdays at 12 p.m. (50 minutes)
Where: Building 108A, room 104.
Skill Level: Beginner-Intermediate
Focus: Physical Balance with an emphasis on restoration and tissue repair
If you have any questions, please contact Anne Bartell at email@example.com.
Whole Health Clinical Care
Whole Health Clinical Care is not a new project or program, but rather represents a cultural transformation in the way we do healthcare, with an intentional focus on treatment that sees and cares for the whole person.
Whole Health Clinical Care also incorporates complementary and integrative approaches to health such as acupuncture and massage therapy. CIH approaches don’t replace traditional medical and mental health care, but can complement and be integrated with the excellent traditional treatments already being offered at VA.
The services below are aligned with Whole Health, but may be provided through care lines or organizations outside the Whole Health program. Because these services are considered clinical treatment, most require a referral from your licensed clinician.
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. For treatment of spine-related issues, Veterans may also receive comprehensive assessment and care (including acupuncture) through the 2nd floor Spine Clinic at the main hospital. No referral is required for the Spine Clinic.
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. Chiropractic care is available through a referral to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services at VA Houston. For treatment of spine-related issues specifically, Veterans may also receive comprehensive assessment and care (including chiropractic) through the 2nd floor Spine Clinic at the main hospital. No referral is required for the Spine Clinic.
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.
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.
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 care, managed by the Office of Integrated Veteran Care (OIVC). A referral can be entered by any licensed healthcare provider.
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
A 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.
Where: Join Wednesday 12:00 p.m. WebEx meeting
When: Fridays at 12:00 p.m.
Where: Join Friday 12:00 p.m. WebEx meeting
How to Join: No appointment needed! Follow the links above to join the classes directly or call us at 713-770-1548 for an iCalendar invitation. These classes and others can also be accessed by requesting a Whole Health consult.
Yoga Therapy for Headaches
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
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.
Where: Join 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
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.