VA program helps senior veterans stay fit

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A free program at the VA to help senior veterans stay healthy and fit is making a positive impact.

"Good to know that I broke my 100-pound mark," said Annaliese Smith, who is celebrating the good news of reaching her weight loss goal with her band of brothers. "I can't thank everyone enough for all their support."

Once a week, this crew comes together at Bay Pines Veterans Hospital to support and motivate each other to lose weight. They are part of the VA's weight management program called Move.

"The Move program, the VA programs saved my life," Annaliese said

For 16 weeks the retired vets do light exercises and talk about weight loss techniques with the help of registered dietitian PJ Pavec.

"Seeing other people successful makes them want to be successful and follow along with some healthy habits that some of the other veterans are doing," PJ said.

The camaraderie and support that they're getting from one another is having a positive effect says Dr. Candis Cormell, a health behavior coordinator at the VA.

"A lot of veterans are seeing improvement in diabetes and high blood pressure so it overall really impacts their health and well being," Cormell said.

Thousands of veterans have been helped by the program, including Michael Baruth who says he has lost 40 inches since he started.

The holistic approach to health is helping veterans live a happier and more active life.

If you are a veteran and would like to sign up for the free program, visit