Dozens of vets participate in the "Walk A Mile or More" group at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center

Posted at 11:48 AM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 13:36:49-05
A group of local veterans is using exercise to get healthy, along with build camaraderie and friendships.
About 75 vets participate in the Walk A Mile or More (WAMM) group at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.
The group meets three times a week for about an hour of exercise. Some of the veterans exercise along with a video; others go on walks in the hallways or outdoors.
Occupational Therapist Jillian Taxman, the program’s coordinator, said it’s free and open to all veterans.
“There’s never a time in our lives we don’t need exercise,” Taxman said. “We make an effort to adapt the exercise to various levels of ability. There are some veterans who sit during the exercise, or who just walk in place.”
But even basic activity can make a world of difference.
“We learn how to eat right and stay fit,” said WAMM program participant Mark Lahti.
Lahti said, when he began exercising with the WAMM group, he was overweight and unaware of the fact that he had diabetes.
“The first nine months I was here, I lost 60 pounds. I cut my blood sugar in half,” Lahti said. “This place, this organization, has really saved my life."
Veterans Alvin Flowers and Lisa Goodwin regularly meet at the WAMM group for their weekly workouts.
“We like the camaraderie,” Flowers said. “We’re working out with fellow vets and people our own age. We push each other to our limits, and that enhances the workout.”
Flowers said he’s lost 10 percent of his body weight since starting with the WAMM group two years ago.
Goodwin, a cancer survivor, said she was over 200 pounds when she finished chemotherapy. Since then, she’s dropped about 30 pounds.
Goodwin said the friendships formed through the WAMM group keep the veterans coming back.
“We all miss one another,” she said. “When someone is not here, we call them.”
Taxman said that’s one example of how WAMM doubles as a social support group. She said it can even help people struggling with mental illness.
“It’s also for people trying to reduce social isolation, reduce depression, who want to become more involved,” Taxman said.
Taxman said any vets interested in joining the WAMM group should talk with their doctor. They can also call 414-384-2000 ext. 42893. 

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