Amber Cadick: For our veterans

Amber Cadick: For our veterans


For 64-year-old Frank Hise it was a typical visit to the VA Illiana Health Care System. He had his labs drawn and was pretty sure his doctor was going to talk to him about his diabetes and his weight. Those were both common topics during a visit. However, this time the conversation was different.

"My doctor took my blood and found out my A1C (a blood test for diabetes) was way high," said Hise. "He said he was going to put me on insulin."

The idea of going on insulin for Hise was not appealing.

"I asked for some time," said Hise. "He (my doctor) gave me two months to change before the insulin would be started." At that time, Hise weighed 300 pounds and he knew in order to avoid insulin he was going to have to lose weight and change his lifestyle. "My motivation was not having to be on insulin and being able to help my diabetes."

Hise began to take his health seriously and took an active role in managing his diabetes. He enrolled in the VA's weight-loss program, MOVE, where he learned about portion control and nutrition. "To lose weight I stopped eating a lot of sweets, ice cream, and cookies," said Hise. "I now only have it on special occasions."

Hise also began exercising under the guidance of his kinesotherapist (KT) at the VA's KT gym. "I go to the KT gym three times a week and ride the bicycle for 12 minutes and work on weights," he said.

"From the beginning Frank worked really hard here on both his aerobic and strengthening exercises," said Paul Haussy, Hise's KT. "I know that carrying around extra pounds on your body can make you feel sluggish. Frank tells me he feels better. Looking at all of the changes he has made I am happy I could help him have a better life. As a rehab provider any time I can help someone stay with an exercise program it is gratifying."

"I had a goal to get down to 270 by the end of last year," said Hise. "I was able to get down to 268 by Thanksgiving and maintain it during the holidays!" He was able to avoid going on insulin and cut down some of his diabetes medication. "To lose weight I had to cut down on the sweets and stop doing nothing. I needed to set some goals like walking and working out," Hise added.

Hise was recently recognized by his Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) and KT staff at the VA Illiana Health Care System as a Wellness Warrior for his dedication to his health and his positive behavior changes. His testimonial sits as a message of inspiration for other veterans battling chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension.

The VA is hoping to work with all of its veterans as it has Hise, creating a plan of care that focuses on the veterans' needs and wishes. Primary Care staff have received training on how to work with veterans to help them tap into their motivation for change, create health goals, and set up specific plans to help them succeed. The VA is also able and ready to wrap the veteran with services to help them meet their goals. Extended medical team staff (such as dietitians, pharmacists, KTs and psychologists), as well as the PACT teams are available to assist the veteran with developing a specialized plan of care that encompasses all forms of treatment, be it medicine, nutrition changes, exercise, and/or cognitive behavior therapy.

The VA has decided that prevention is the key to living a healthy life and fighting chronic disease. With this commitment to prevention the VA has created a program focused on nine healthy living messages: Be Physically Active, Eat Wisely, Strive for a Healthy Weight, Be Tobacco Free, Get Involved in Your Health Care, Get Recommended Screenings and Immunizations, Manage Stress, Limit Alcohol, and Be Safe. To learn more about what the VA has to offer for patient-centered care and/or health promotion disease prevention, please contact Misty Hillard 217-554-4582.

Amber Cadick is a psychologist and health behavior coordinator at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System in Danville. She co-leads the Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program there. VA staff members will contribute monthly columns on the type of services and new initiatives available for veterans in East Central Illinois.