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Intern-Designed Wellness Program Aids Veterans’ Civilian Life Transition

Miranda Crummey says she’s always wanted to give back to the veteran community.

“My dad is a veteran, and I have a high level of respect and gratitude for those who served in the armed services,” she said.

Now, she is doing that as she completes her occupational therapy doctoral degree at the University of Michigan-Flint by creating and executing her capstone project through an internship at the VFW National Home.

“Occupational therapy has deep roots working with veterans.  In WWII, occupational therapists used basket weaving to calm and address mental health issues in soldiers,” explained Crummey.

Wellness Program Benefits Vets

Crummey has developed a five-week wellness program to help veterans who are transitioning to the civilian world, where they often face social, physical, mental, and environmental barriers. Currently working with five National Home veteran residents, she uses mindfulness, guided imagery, and leisurely social activities like fishing to help improve wellness and well-being.

She also helps program participants implement structure in their lives through their home environments, parenting, and self-care.

Her practical applications include:

  • More structure and routine at home, such as creating a cleaning schedule and assigning different tasks to different days.
  • In parenting, create a visual schedule to use with children with kid-friendly pictures that can be moved along a board and indicate commitments or tasks.
  • For self-care, make sure there is time to shower, practice deep breathing, and good sleep hygiene.

“All my activities are client-centered, holistic, and evidence-based,” explains Crummey.

Crummy says that each veteran has a unique story, but she’s discovered that the overarching issues they all seem to face are social engagement and difficulty finding purpose and meaning after their military service.

“Engagement and a wellness program created with an OT lens can increase their self-awareness, confidence, and their overall quality of life,” she added.

Upon completion of her internship, Crummey will leave educational materials and resources that were utilized in the wellness program with the VFW National Home for case managers to use and distribute at their discretion. 

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