InsightLA at the Greater Los Angeles VA

VA CALM team: Paloma Cain, MA, Christiane Wolf, MD, PhD, Wendy Schmelzer, LCSW, Joni Cohen, PhD (from left)

In the Spring of 2011, InsightLA was awarded a grant by the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System to develop and teach a train-the-trainer model for teaching mindfulness to Veterans.

We put a small but powerful team together under my leadership and designed and implemented VA CALM (“VA Compassionate Action Learning Modules” )

VA CALM offers MBSR classes for clinicians and other staff, weekly sitting groups, a regular 6 week online class “Introduction to Mindfulness”, short introductory series tailored for different departments in the VA hospital, clinician mentoring, a bi-weekly newsletter, grand rounds, etc.

VA Greater Los Angeles serves Veterans and their families from the metro Los Angeles area to Bakersfield and to San Luis Obispo.  It is the largest, most complex healthcare system within the Department of Veterans Affairs and serves 1.4 million vets and their families. VA CALM programs have used innovative technologies such as video clinical teleconferences to stream mindfulness training to VA staff and courses to veterans.

Building on the successful groundwork of VA CALM, GLA since June 2012 now has the first full-time mindfulness teacher in the federal system, Greg Serpa, PhD, who has been successfully teaching MBSR inspired classes to vets for a number of years.