VHA:IE brings Veterans stories to the forefront in new episode

How important is a story? The next episode of the VHA:IE podcast looks at two innovative VHA programs that are helping Veterans tell their stories and using these stories to improve their care. The episode also looks at a different kind of story telling with a Veteran dance group called DIAVOLO.

Dr. Ryan Vega, Director of the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative, begins the episode speaking with Thor Ringler, a Marriage and Family Therapist at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. Ringler leads the My Life, My Story program, which personalizes the health care experience by including a Veteran’s life story in their medical file. Through the program, Veterans sit down to share their stories with writers who help craft a written story that allows doctors to better understand the lives of those they care for. The groundbreaking program is being spread across VHA as it gains popularity with both Veterans and caregivers.

Stories aren’t just about the past, however. The second VHA practice featured on this episode focuses on how Veterans may confront death. John D’Adamo, Acting Director of the VHA Innovators Network, sits down with Amanda Meinke, Patient Centered Care Coordinator at the Tomah VA Medical Center, to learn how the Before I Die program is helping Veterans better discuss the often taboo subject of death, which in turn helps them live better lives. The practice is adapted from a successful art installation that has helped thousands around the world open up to discussions on death.

Finally, we take a look at The Veteran Project from dance group DIAVOLO, which is helping restore Veterans’ physical, mental, and emotional strength through workshops and public performances. DIAVOLO’s artistic director Jacques Heim and Army Veteran Chris Loverro discuss how dance can help Veterans gain strength and tell their stories in ways they never thought possible.

We hope you’ll join us for this episode, and please remember to subscribe and leave a review. You can find VHA:IE on any of the platforms below.

iTunes: https://apple.co/2Ew30hA
Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/Irsifznrjkaz563cw6kuwapx6kq?t=VAIE
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/vaie_podcast
YouTube: http://bit.ly/2t0T3GI
VHA’s VHA:IE podcast is dedicated to discussing and promoting the groundbreaking work being done across VHA to advance our care and support of Veterans. Each episode, we discuss a specific challenge that VHA is facing, and how frontline employees and Veterans themselves are taking innovative steps to tackle these challenges. We’ll also be discussing these efforts on a broader scale with private sector organizations and individuals who are working in the same sphere. We’re hoping to give everyone better insight into the many ways that VHA is adapting and growing to better serve an ever-changing Veteran population.


Matthew Razak

Matthew Razak supports VA as a contractor with Atlas Research, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm providing strategic advisory and applied research services to federal health and social service agencies. Matt has been working with VA for the past six years supporting social media and communication efforts.