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NF/SGVHS Offers Virtual Book Club to Enrolled Veterans Participating in Whole Health Services


October 1, 2021

Gainesville , FL — The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System’s (NF/SGVHS) medical library has teamed up with Whole Health Service to provide an innovative virtual book club for enrolled Veterans participating in whole health services.

“The VA medical library was unable to check out books or allow visits to VA facilities due to COVID-19 restrictions and decided to start an innovative virtual book club to keep Veterans engaged,” said Lisa Huang, NF/SGVHS medical library supervisor.

The NF/SGVHS library staff sends out books for the Veterans to keep.

Whole Health Coach (WHC), Rochelle Shipman, answered Huang’s call to host a virtual book club for Jacksonville Veterans.

“The purpose of the book club is to give Veterans resources to stay connected and continue reading,” said Shipman.

Shipman’s virtual book club started in June 2020 and is offered weekly or biweekly depending on the current book, assigned. Book club discussions occur through VA Video Connect, the VA’s secure modality for telecommunications with Veterans.

Korean War Veteran, Joseph Sanders explains that he joined the book club to stay motivated.

“When I got the call that we were starting book club, I got excited! I’ve had reluctance in getting a book and starting to read on my own, said Sanders. “I’ve learned a lot and have benefited by being held accountable to my group.” 


Since the beginning of the book club, Veterans have read 8 non-fiction books. The books are chosen based on the individual group’s interest. Some of the books read, include “The American Spirit” by David McCullough, “The Power of Servant Leadership,” by Robert K. Greenleaf, and “Tough as they Come,’ by Travis Mills.


For Navy Veteran Donald Cooper, the virtual book club gave him another way to interact with people outside of his normal circle of friends and family.

“Being a part of this group is great because it gives me perspective and helps with getting me through long stretches of time in isolation,” said Cooper.


Shipman believes that the book club has been successful because of the diversity of the participants.

“We have members who come from all different backgrounds, young, old, male, female, etc,” said Shipman. “Everyone brings a unique outlook to the group which makes our discussions engaging and interesting.

“My experiences are going to be different from someone who is 20 years older than me. I think that is awesome,” said Cooper. “Looking at things with different filters ultimately changes the way you think and view the world.”

Shipman explains that she ends each book club session by trying to give Veterans something to think about in preparation for the next time they meet.

“I don’t like when everyone in the group agrees with each other during our discussions. Sometimes I like to play devil’s advocate and purposely disagree with them just to draw out different points of views,” said Shipman.

Veterans in the book club say that the group is successful because of Shipman’s vested interest in making each session exciting.

“Rochelle goes out of her way to make things work for us. She’ll even call me to make sure that I stay on track,” said Sanders. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be cared about that much.”

Veterans interested in participating in a virtual book club can reach out to the NF/SGVHS Library staff for a list which provides contact information for current book club facilitators.

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