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Serving our Veterans with type 2 diabetes, with help from Virta and the Veterans Administration

September 24, 2019
February 4, 2020

By Lester, Army Veteran and Virta Patient

Service to others has always been an important part of my life. I spent 23 years of my life serving in the Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard. From 1974 to 1997, I served time in Field Artillery, Special Forces, and Recruiting & Retention. I had the opportunity to serve stateside and various places overseas, including Germany and Italy. I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy my time and the people I served with.

My world came crashing down for the first time in June 2012, when the nurse at the VA told me that I had type 2 diabetes. She said that I would have diabetes for the rest of my life, and it sure felt like a life sentence.

I was scared, and getting diagnosed added a whole new level of stress to my life. I had to try to lower my glucose levels by changing what I ate, measuring everything, and exercising more. I managed to lower my A1c somewhat by taking cinnamon daily, exercising more, and strict dieting.

The most frustrating thing was having to take more drugs. I was taking metformin and glipizide 2 times per day, which gave me really uncomfortable side effects like diarrhea. It felt like I was always seeing the doctor, since they made me come back every 3 months after I was diagnosed.

I worried that I might lose my job if my diabetes got worse. I drive for Go Riteway Transportation Services, and we have to pass a Department of Transportation physical every year. If my diabetes got worse and I had to go on insulin, I wouldn’t pass the physical and could lose my job. This all left me mentally drained and even more depressed.

My world came crashing down for the second time on February 4, 2019, when my fiance Valentine died suddenly from pneumonia. I struggled for months with anxiety and depression, and my A1c jumped to 14.0% as a result. I got a letter from my nurse at the VA saying that I had to go on insulin now that my A1c was so dangerously high. A few days later, a box of insulin showed up on my doorstep. Turns out the VA will ship it directly to you, even if you are refusing to take it.

I knew that my high A1c and blood sugars were really bad, but I didn’t want to take the drugs. Valentine was a nutritionist, and we had started working on changing my diet, but her death really threw me off. I felt hopeless. If the high blood sugars didn’t kill me, I was worried that the drugs used to reduce them would.

I felt hope again for the first time when I found out about Virta. I remember when I first saw the advertising on Facebook that the VA was working with Virta Health to help us Veterans get rid of diabetes. I started doing research on Virta, and the more I learned, the more excited I got. Virta was exactly what Valentine would have wanted me to do.

My life and my health have been improving daily since joining Virta on June 1, 2019. Before joining, I felt that I was going to end up with major health problems. I don't think that anymore. In under 2 months, my fasting blood sugar has dropped from nearly 200 mg/dL to between 120 and 130 mg/dL, even though I am no longer taking any diabetes drugs. I feel like I am taking back control of my life, which is something I never felt when taking more diabetes drugs.

I feel like a reborn person. My energy levels have gone way up, my pain levels have gone down, and I am able to focus on things much better. I’ve also lost about 15 pounds, and never have any issues with hunger. I do have to work more on my sleep, because my sleep apnea and PTSD sometimes flare up and mess with it. But my sleep is already improving with the help of my Virta health coach. I am so excited to feel this fantastic already. For the first time in a long time, I look forward to everyday living.

I am so thankful that Virta’s diabetes reversal treatment is fully covered through the VA’s partnership with Virta. My care team at Virta is so important to me. The coaches and doctors help me stay focused on reversing my diabetes, and energize me when I need a boost. I enjoy the regular messages and texts from my coach, and I love how easy the app is to use to access my history, record my readings, and see my progress.

One of the best parts about being a Veteran is the community you get out of it. I’ve been an active member in many Veterans groups for years, including Disabled Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars of Wisconsin, American Legion, and TREA. I sit on the board of the Wisconsin Governor’s council for Veterans Affairs. I am a Certified Chapter Service Officer of Chapter 24 DAV, which means that I help Veterans file claims for disability and appeal those claims. I love helping Veterans and their families!

It saddens me that type 2 diabetes is killing and disabling the brave men and women who’ve defended our country, and taking away the golden years they deserve to be having now. I want to serve my fellow Veterans suffering from diabetes, and help them get on the path to health that I am currently on. So I am doing everything I can to get the word out about how Veterans can get free access to Virta’s type 2 diabetes reversal treatment. I hope that I can inspire VSOs and other Veteran groups to do the same. If you are a Veteran reading this, please consider telling the Vets you know about Virta. It just might save their life.

Virta uplifts my spirits daily, and by sharing my experience on Virta, I hope to help uplift other Veterans too. I want every Veteran to have the opportunity to experience the miracle of Virta Health.

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