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Veterans invited to learn about Whole Health at April 17 event

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The benefits of Whole Health for Veterans will be explored during the Whole Health Retreat on April 17.

The event, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, 5000 W. National Ave., will include breakout sessions, a panel discussion, resource tables and plenty of opportunities for Veterans to get hands-on instruction in Whole Health skills and practices.

“It’s going to be fun and engaging,” said Stacy Olson, Whole Health Program Manager for the Milwaukee VA. “Any Veteran who has ever wondered about Whole Health should come in and check it out.”

No registration is required to attend. There will also be sessions for Milwaukee VA employees.

The schedule:

  • 10 a.m.: Pain Psychology: Strategies for Regaining Control Over Your Life
  • 11 a.m.: Live Your Best Life with Whole Health
  • 11:30 a.m.: Veterans panel discussion
  • 12:30 p.m.: Tai chi or Self Mind Clearing Healing Touch
  • 1 p.m.: Chair exercise or Clinical Hypnotherapy
  • 1:30 p.m.: Walk a Mile or More or Advance Directives information

Other offerings will focus on clinical hypnotherapy, health coaching, Healing Touch and advance directives. Employee-only sessions will include stress awareness, de-escalation training, Emotional Freedom Technique, ergonomics and guided imagery.

Whole Health stresses non-medical practices people can do to help them “live their best lives,” Olson said, noting that all offerings are evidence-based and meant to complement any medical care a person may be receiving.

"We all have the ability to self-heal. We all have control over our own well-being," she said. "Whole Health equips you with those self-management and self-healing skills."

The benefits of Whole Health for employees are similar, said Shauna Gearhart of the Zablocki Employee Wellness Committee.

“It’s about how we can live our best lives not only at work but outside of work,” she said. “What can we do while we’re at work to ensure that we still have the energy and presence for what matters most to us when we go home?”

Taking care of that whole person is important for VA employees, Gearhart said, because happy, healthy employees will lead to better care for Veterans.

“It’s about healing both the employee and the Veteran because they have an impact on each other,” she said. “When employees protect themselves from burnout, they have more presence with their patients, and their patients have better outcomes.”

The April 17 event is a renaissance of sorts. The Whole Health Retreat started in 2019, but then had to be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Smaller, virtual-only events were instituted during that time, but this is the first in-person event since 2019.

And Olson and Gearhart want Veterans and employees alike to revel in the camaraderie of coming together.

“I’m excited to bring it back face-to-face for the socialization, the peer support and to have that camaraderie,” Olson said. “Our message is much stronger when we’re here together, and there’s a collective energy among everybody.”

Gearhart agreed.

“I’m excited to see people get out of their offices and interact with each other,” she said, noting that the last pre-pandemic event had “so many people interacting, listening to stories and trying out the different self-care practices.”

“So I’m excited to see that community experience again … with people learning how to take care of themselves.”

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