Operation: Veteran Connect engages AmeriCorps members who are veterans and feel a special calling to help others who’ve served our nation. In partnership with James A. Haley and Bay Pines VA Hospitals, this veterans-helping-veterans model helps implement Whole Health, the VA’s radical redesign of healthcare that goes beyond medicine to encompass all aspects of wellbeing. Volunteers, like Norm Bungard, help veterans/military families create personal wellness plans and navigate resources.
Norm tells his story best: “My tenure with AmeriCorps and Seniors in Service started over 1.5 years ago, well after I started volunteering at Bay Pines. I have learned so much about Whole Health, an initiative of the Veterans Administration and Bay Pines VAMC and James Hayley VAMC locally. There are critical pieces of Whole Health, including prevention of disease and accidents and maintenance of good health. It is about the components on the “wheel” of Whole Health. AmeriCorps volunteers have distributed thousands of handouts illustrating this wheel over the last several months. We have attended multiple training programs, real and virtual, with Bay Pines, James Hayley, and other trainers and have diligently shared the message with thousands of Veterans and non-Veterans.
I learned that I had lived a modified version of Whole Health for well over 25 years. I eat healthy, exercise, rest, and volunteer. I have a keen sense of my theology, or as displayed on the Whole Health Wheel, my spirituality. My belief is in the Christian Faith. I also believe in respect for all people and all faiths who teach peace and practice goodwill toward their neighbors. And, I maintain, We are ALL Neighbors.
I try to avoid preaching, yet I want the listeners to know my devotion to Whole Health. Whole Health is real. I believe wholeheartedly in it and am vitally interested in sharing it. Ask for more information or a presentation. I am happy to present, and there are many others even more knowledgeable but none more dedicated. Just ask.”
Thank you, Norm, for your dedication to our community’s veterans and military families!