Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
Pensacola VA Clinic Offering Tai Chi for Employees
PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Joint Ambulatory Care Clinic (JACC) in Pensacola, Florida, is offering Tai Chi sessions weekly for facility employees as part of the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) Whole Health initiative.
Each half-hour long physically-distanced class, held each Tuesday and Friday beginning at 10 and 10:30 a.m., are designed to incorporate the mind-body exercise, strengthening the connection between the two through gentle movement and mindful awareness, according to Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) Health Promotion Disease Prevention Program Manager Tara Martine.
“Employee Whole Health has been a big focus for us since the ongoing global health crisis began,” she said. “Right now the general health, well-being and stress reduction benefits these classes can offer employees are extremely important due to current CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations for physical distancing which has limited exercise capabilities.”
Martine added that research indicates Tai Chi can have a positive effect on general health and well-being, stress, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, balance and cardiovascular disease among other physical ailments, and said that tai chi instructor Julia Thurman, a GCVHCS JACC kinesiotherapist, leads the classes.
“Tai chi is such an effective way to reduce stress and sharpen your focus,” she said. “I love being an instructor.”
Thurman added that although classes for Veterans are currently not held, Veterans can still engage in VA Whole Health through a variety of activities, and GCVHCS Whole Health plans to reinstate courses for Veterans when CDC recommendations and GCVHCS regulations permit.
“I have literally seen veterans with such debilitating diseases such a neuropathy, schizophrenia, ataxia, and others take charge of their physical fitness with tai chi and enhance not only their balance but also their mindset,” Thurman said. “There are veterans that would travel from Mobile to Pensacola for the bi-weekly sessions because they love it so much. It makes me proud to know that our facility provides a program so rewarding as this one.”
Martine said that numerous VHA Whole Health online and virtual tai chi resources are available, including two episodes of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ official blog, VAntage Point: Live Whole Health: Self-care episode 35, and Live Whole Health: Self-care episode 3 – Tai Chi.
The VA’s Whole Health initiative is a unique approach to health care, something designed to support the individual’s health and well-being. Whole Health centers around what matters to the individual and integrates an individual’s health team into their care.
The JACC, along with the Mobile, Alabama, and Eglin and Panama City, Florida, VA Clinics and the Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center are all part of the GCVHCS, which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 70,000 Veterans.