VA Western New York Healthcare System
The Time is Now-The Great American Smokeout
VA Western New York Healthcare System and the American Cancer Society team up each year for the Great American Smokeout, a day where VA encourages Veterans and employees to try, at least for one day, to quit smoking with the hope they can quit for a lifetime. Robert Daeschler, a Marine and Army National Guard Veteran, and Sue Engle, VA Western New York Healthcare System employee, both succeeded in their mission to stop smoking through the help of VA’s Tobacco Cessation team and the Great American Smokeout.
Robert Daeschler, 63, served in Vietnam and the Armed Forces for ten years. He began smoking at age 12 because it was common to smoke socially at the time. As time passed, Daeschler was smoking up to two packs per day. Eighteen years after his service in Vietnam, Daeschler had a heart attack at the age of 36. Along with other health problems he decided that quitting smoking was the best way to improve his health and wellbeing. At first, Daeschler started his journey to quit smoking with his wife. She was successful, while he had a few struggles. After a few attempts to quit, Daeschler came to VA Western New York Healthcare System to meet with Tim Parish, Tobacco Cessation Therapist. Parish supported Daeschler with Tobacco Cessation classes, support groups, tapes, films and nicotine patches. “It was mind over matter. The cigarettes really controlled me,” said Daeschler. Since 2002, Daeschler has been smoke-free. His health and breathing are better, and feels like he wouldn’t be here if he kept smoking. “Every time I see him [Parish] at the VA, I say thanks for it.”
Susan Engel, RN, Memory Care Coordinator, has been employed for 22 years at VA Western New York Healthcare System. Engel started smoking at the age of 18 in nursing school. “Back then, everyone smoked,” said Engel. Smoking was common in hospitals, restaurants and other public areas. Once smoking became restricted to certain areas this became inconvenient for Engel, and made her think about her health. As an employee, Engel was able to sign up with VA Western New York Healthcare System Tobacco Cessation Program. Parish led Engel and others through the Quit Smart program, which consisted of relaxation tapes, support groups, one-on-one counseling, artificial cigarettes, nicotine patches and antidepressants. “I used cigarettes to reduce stress and one of the places I smoked was my car. The artificial cigarettes really helped with that,” said Engel. Each tool used helped her lose the desire to smoke. Now smoke-free for 12 years, Engel says that she’s glad that she did it, and physically feels good. When asked what she had to say to those that want to quit, she immediately said “go see Tim Parish, because there’s hope.”
Whether you are thinking about quitting or have struggled trying to quit smoking, there is always a team to help at VA Western New York Healthcare System. Meet the team and start your journey to quit smoking forever! The Great American Smokeout is happening at VA Western New York Healthcare System on Thursday, November 21 in the lobby at the Buffalo site, 3495 Bailey Avenue from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Carbon monoxide testing and health coaching will be offered. As Parish says, “join the Great American Smoke Out! Quitting tobacco is the single most important step a person can take to improve his or her health.” Veterans can contact Tim Parish at 716-862-8588.