FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Missouri Arthritis and Osteoporosis Program
November 11, 2014 (888) 702-8818
Thank Our Veterans and Offer Steps to Better Health
Today, November 11, we celebrate Veterans Day. Veterans Day was originally proclaimed as “Armistice Day” In November 1919 at the end of World War I. The Act of 1938 officially made this day a legal holiday “to be dedicated to the cause of world peace”, primarily to honor veterans of World War I (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2014). Veterans Day, as we know it today, became official in 1954 in order to honor American veterans of all wars. The purpose of Veterans Day is “a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good” (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2014). We thank all of our veterans for their service!
As of September 30, 2014, Missouri has a population of just under 495,000 veterans (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2014). Nearly 172,000 of those living veterans are ages 45-64 and over 226,000 are age 65+ (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2014). About 80% of adults aged 65 and older have one chronic condition and 50% have at least two (CDC, 2011).
In Missouri, we offer self-management and physical activity programs to persons with chronic conditions in community and healthcare settings. In the fall of 2011, a veteran in Jackson County reported he was able to improve his quality of life through participation in the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program and with the help of the VA. He planned to move into a Veterans home, but was able to remain in his home since he was functioning better on his own.
As mentioned last week in our article on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, Arthritis Among Veterans, arthritis is more common among veterans than non-veterans. In Missouri, 37% of veterans reported that they had arthritis (CDC, 2014). Fortunately, there are multiple inexpensive proven strategies available to veterans in their communities that can help manage their arthritis. Missouri veterans can improve their quality of life by accessing affordable physical activity and self-management education classes offered. These classes are proven to reduce the adverse effects of arthritis (e.g., pain, poor function, depression) and its comorbidities (e.g., heart disease, diabetes) (CDC, 2014).
One of our programs, Living a Healthy Life (Chronic Disease Self-Management Program – CDSMP), has specifically made an impact for veterans in Missouri. A partnership was formed in late 2011 between the Kansas City VA Medical Center and the Kansas City Area Regional Arthritis Center to consistently offer the CDSMP program. The CDSMP is a peer-led education program for adults experiencing chronic health conditions. The six-week program provides information and skills to help achieve healthier, more fulfilling lives in once weekly, 2.5 hour sessions. Nine KC VA staff initially trained as program leaders and five more staff joined since. To-date, the program has been offered 14 times in the KC VA since March of 2012, serving 116 participants; nearly 90% of participants completed at least four of the six sessions. As a result of the success in Kansas City, other Missouri VAs are interested in offering programs. The John J Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff has two trained leaders who held three classes since August 2013, reaching 21 participants.
With today’s celebration of our veterans, we remember and thank them for their service! We also remember the need to continue offering health services, especially as our World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, and Gulf War veterans age. We encourage veterans with chronic health problems to take the first Step to Better Health today by finding out more about programs offered near them!