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MOVE! Program Changing Veterans Lives

Veteran smiling and holding pants that used to fit him.
The MOVE! Weight Management Program helped Air Force Veteran Gary Richman lose over a 100 pounds, but weight loss is just one of the benefits he has seen.

A lot of Veterans strive for a healthy life and weight, but two Utah Veterans achieved that goal through the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System’s MOVE! Weight Management Program —along the way collectively losing over a 150 pounds.

U.S. Navy and Vietnam Veteran Dale Whitney said he started having health issues, after he retired, despite going to the gym more. He was experiencing balance issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low energy and struggled to put on his socks. His wife took a photo of him while on vacation and it did not “sit right” with him.

“I got back from vacation and called the VA for help, and my doctor referred me to the MOVE! Program,” said Whitney  “They gave me the manual and told me to read the first three chapters to catch up. I read the first three paragraphs and knew the program was for me.”

U.S. Air Force Veteran Gary Richman was spurred to act by his children, father, and doctor, and wanting to be there for his grandchildren.

“When I first started [the MOVE! program], I had a hard time mowing my lawn. I had to stop a couple of times and sit down. I had to carry oxygen,” Richman said.

Watch Dale and Gary's  MOVE! Weight Management Story

Both Veterans started showing up for the South Jordan VA Clinic’s MOVE! Weight Management Program, led by dietitian Jayne Bois. According to Bois, the goal of the 16-week program is to help Veterans learn how to self-manage health and weight, using changes in diet, activity, and behavior. She said she and other MOVE! instructors serve as coaches to help Veterans reach their individual health and well-being goals.

“We work very hard to get Veterans to think about why they are here [in the class], what do they want to get out of this, and what they are willing to do for themselves,” said Bois.

Both Whitney and Richman accepted that challenge.

“I liked that they didn’t focus on weight. They focused on health, weight management, healthy eating, healthy living and exercise,” said Whitney.

He started walking with his wife twice a day. He became more mindful of his diet and cravings, swapping sweets for carrots. He has this message for his fellow Veterans, “You don’t need to jog, you don’t need to do anything too strenuous, you just need to move! That’s what the class is called.”

Moving is what Richman also set out to do. He set a goal of eating healthier, cutting out the evening snacks, and walking 10-15 thousand steps a day.

“When I started, I couldn’t even walk around the block without having to stop and sit down. Now I can go out and walk for miles,” said Gary.

Both Veterans finished the program and now attend the MOVE! Weight Maintenance program, a twice monthly support group lead by Bois. Whitney  has dropped over 50 pounds since starting MOVE!, but losing weight is not the only benefit he has seen.

“I have more energy. I have more motivation. I can do a lot of things that I wasn’t doing before that I was avoiding doing, and I don’t struggle to tie my shoes,” said Whitney.

Richman’s success has also been overwhelming — he said he no longer needs oxygen, no longer needs insulin and has lost over 100 pounds, but that is not all he got out the program.

“It has helped me feel more confident and helped my self-esteem, knowing that I have been able to accomplish what I wanted to my whole life: lose weight, be healthy, and hopefully live a lot longer,” Richman said.

The 16-Week MOVE! Weight Management Program is held at the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center and all the community clinics. A TeleMOVE! Class is also available.  If you are a Veteran looking to live a healthier life and are interested in the MOVE! program, talk to your primary care provider or call 801-582-1565 ext. 2149 for more information or visit the MOVE! webpage.







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