MOVE! Program graduates its first class


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In June, the MOVE! program at SLVHCS graduated its first group of Veterans since restructuring the program at the medical center. The graduation was the culmination of six months of work toward managing their weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

MOVE! is a weight management program that teaches participants to manage the many aspects of life that contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. Veterans who enroll attend 12 group sessions over six months. The sessions cover topics such as healthy eating, reading food labels and coping with stress. After completing the series, Veterans are better prepared to make informed choices about their health.

“The information they give us, health-wise, and showing us how to track things is beneficial,” said Air Force Veteran Antonio Garrison. “I’d recommend this program to anyone, especially if you’re concerned about losing weight.” Garrison lost a total of 30 pounds while completing MOVE! and the diabetic healthy cooking classes at SLVHCS.

More than just nutrition advice

Along with nutrition advice, Veterans enrolled in MOVE! get other healthy living advice, such as how medications can affect weight and how certain behaviors contribute to being overweight.

“I liked this program because it had a lot of subject matter, and it incorporated exercise,” added Marine Corps Veteran Jay Mills. “I got instruction on eating better, exercising and being healthy overall. We also talked about things like sleep and how that’s important for health.” The changes he made while working through the program helped him lose 10 pounds.

The MOVE! Program graduates advance to the MOVE! Fit series, in which they work with a recreational therapist to design a personalized workout regime based on their abilities.

Ross Kennedy is the MOVE! program coordinator. He works with each person who enrolls to discover habits that have been preventing them from living at a healthy weight.

“Our aim is to help each Veteran become a healthier person overall by doing what’s necessary to get there,” explained Kennedy. “Managing and coping with stress while being mindful about activities and diet can help a person live a higher-quality life.”

Personalized routines

Air Force Veteran Christopher Dunnings enrolled in the program because he wanted to learn better habits. He was able to lose 5 pounds by starting a routine that fit his needs and abilities.

“I have physical impairments,” he explained. “It didn’t help that I picked up 40 pounds since moving to New Orleans. I knew I couldn’t keep doing things the way I was doing them. But I couldn’t do normal exercise for more than a couple days without getting hurt. Here, I was introduced to swimming as a part of my plan to stay healthy. I can do that without injury, so I can stick with it.”

Dunnings, Mills and Garrison were three of the first nine Veterans to graduate from the program since it restarted. They plan to continue using the healthy habits they developed to make further progress toward their goals.

If you would like to attend an informational session and learn more about the MOVE! program, call the Southeast Louisiana HCS at 800-925-8387 and press 3 to speak with a medical support assistant, who can help you register for MOVE!


Phillip Wall is a public affairs specialist at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

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