Veteran Tricia Bear, who served in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard, is no stranger to heartache. However, she credits the VA and Take Courage Coaching in helping her to cope with the many personal challenges and hardships she has faced.

Veteran Connection: Finding success with pain management coaching program

Mathews

Bear retired in 2014 as a sergeant first class with 21 years of service. She held six occupational specialties over the course of her career as well as a deployment to Iraq in 2008.

Even though Bear enjoyed her time in the military, throughout her career she faced many struggles in her life dealing with health issues, the loss of two of her siblings and losing her mother to cancer. She came to the VA to find the services she needed to begin the healing process, both physically and mentally.

It was Deborah Morrow, Chronic Pain Program coordinator for the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, who referred her to the Take Courage Coaching Program (TCC). TCC is a specialized pain management coaching program that the VA contracts with to provide additional services to veterans.

“We currently have 22 veterans actively participating, and those who have completed it show substantial decreases in their self-reports of pain and say their quality of life has significantly improved,” Morrow said.

TCC provides a specialized pain coach to work with veterans twice a week by phone for 12 months, which gives them a supportive, structured program that helps apply pain treatments into their day-to-day life. The coach will assist them in setting goals and along their journey in reaching those goals.

According to Bear, the program has been a game-changer and has taught her techniques that not only deal with complicated pain issues, but also goal setting, improved sleep, breathing techniques, self-compassion, importance of exercising, gratitude, social support and other vital skills.

She says it was the TCC program that gave her the courage to go back to college at the age of 50 to get her culinary degree.

“The Take Courage Coaching program is by far the best coaching program I've ever been through,” Bear said. “It has helped me deal with the loss of loved ones, overcome deployment issues, and has helped me get off two prescribed narcotics that I was taking for neurotherapy.” 

According to Morrow, having access to programs like TCC helps VA provide some of the most cutting edge, evidenced-based pain services to veterans regardless of where they live.

If you are interested in the Take Courage Coaching program, contact Deborah Morrow at (918) 577-3054 or email: deborah.morrow@va.gov.

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