TEMPLE (January 9, 2012)—Only about 6 percent of eligible veterans are taking advantage of the VA’s Move! Weight Management Program, which started in Temple in 2006, officials say.
Veterans whose body mass index is in the obese range or who are diabetic or have heart issues are eligible for the free program,
About 1,000 veterans are now using the program and about 5,000 have participated since it started in 2006.
"Within our region, the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, veterans that are entering the VA have about a 42 per cent chance of obesity and that's predictive of ongoing weight gain in the future," said Rebecca Campbell, with the VA's Health Promotion Disease Prevention.
"If veterans can make a commitment to participate in Move! for a four-month period, coming at least eight visits, then they have a 27 percent chance of losing 5 percent of their body weight in six months."
One local veteran who has seen a positive change from the program is Army veteran Pamela Jamerson.
Jamerson retired from the Army in 2010 after 22 years of service when her knees gave out on her.
"The time I got out of the military, depression pretty much was starting to set in because I missed the military and everything," Jamerson said.
Between not being able to stay active like she used to and overeating, Jamerson grew to a size 16.
Two years ago Jamerson was at her highest weight, 172 pounds.
"I felt fat, disgusted, kind of embarrassed of my body," Jamerson said.
A year ago Jamerson took on the program’s challenge to make herself feel better physically and mentally.
Now size 8 and weighing just 137 pounds, Jamerson says her task is not complete.
She wants to inspire others, such as Marine Corps veteran Derek Brinkmann, who just signed up for the program.
"I think it's awesome to sit there and listen to her story the way she had done it, and it's real inspiring," Brinkmann said.