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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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VA Offers Free Weight Loss Program to Improve Veteran Health

May 29, 2012

Army Veteran Francisco Ortiz gives the thumbs up to his continued weight loss at a MOVE! meeting with registered dietitian, Jordyn Forsyth


Tired of feeling bad and having little energy, Army Veteran Francisco Ortiz decided he wanted to be healthier and live a long, happy life.  A registered dietitian at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) encouraged him to try a unique weight loss program for Veterans.

Managing Overweight and/or Obesity for Veterans Everywhere (MOVE!) is a Department of Veterans Affairs weight management program designed to help Veterans lose weight, keep it off, and improve their overall health. 

Veterans have several options within the MOVE! Program to help them lose weight. Ortiz chose TeleMOVE!, a telehealth weight reduction program that Veterans can do at home. TeleMOVE! provides qualified Veterans with a home messaging device such as the Health Buddy, a digital scale, a pedometer, a program handbook, direct access to a Care Coordinator, and a team approach to helping participants reach their goals. 

“The TeleMOVE! Program helped me stay motivated; the Health Buddy made it much easier,” said Ortiz. “It makes you accountable and teaches you how to make better food choices and gives you the tools you need to achieve a healthy lifestyle.”

Other options in the MOVE! Program include MOVE! Individual, one-on-one nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian; MOVE! Group, four two-hour sessions to learn about nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes; and MOVE! Support Groups.

The MOVE! Program teaches Veterans how to become healthier by emphasizing health and well-being as achievable goals. Through a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach using behavioral changes, nutrition, and physical activity, Veterans individually tailor the program to meet their specific goals. 

“My ultimate goal is better health. This program is definitely worth it,” said Ortiz. “Veterans who try it will not be disappointed. The help and support you get from VA staff is super.”

The VA serves more than six million Veterans, of whom approximately 77 percent are overweight or obese. Approximately 38 percent are obese. The MOVE! Program is the largest and most comprehensive weight management and physical activity program associated with a medical care system in the United States.

“I have lost 9% of my body weight,” said Ortiz. “The support group meetings make you realize that you are not alone in this journey and others have the same issues as you.” 

The MOVE! Program provided at MEDVAMC addresses three of the nine Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Healthy Living Messages which include “Maintain a Healthy Weight,” “Eat Wisely,” and “Be Physically Active.”  It provides guidance in areas of nutrition, behavior change, and physical activity, and allows the Veteran to participate in personal goal setting.  Any Veteran receiving care at the MEDVAMC or one of its outpatient clinics can participate by talking with their primary care provider. 

Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 130,000 Veterans in southeast Texas. Veterans from around the country are referred to the MEDVAMC for specialized diagnostic care, radiation therapy, surgery, and medical treatment including cardiovascular surgery, gastrointestinal endoscopy, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, and treatment of spinal cord injury and diseases. The MEDVAMC is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; an award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; VA Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; VA Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; VA Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; and one of the VA’s six Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Centers. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged almost 1.3 million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2011. For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit