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VA Western New York Healthcare System

 

Veteran Lauds VA’s Tele-Quit Program

Charley Czarnecki

Charley Czarnecki

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Veteran Lauds VA’s Tele-Quit Program

1-877-619-0106, Select option 3

When Charley Czarnecki experimented with smoking in High School, he really didn’t think much of it. Even after Army basic training, he harbored no real desire to smoke, but as a radio operator in Vietnam from 1969-70, everything changed. The military culture of lighting up “was already there…and every field ration had cigarettes in them,” said Charley, a native of Tonawanda, New York. Charley knew he started a bad habit, and over the next forty years, tried many times to quit. Without a smoke “I felt like I had the flu.” Starting in the early 1980s, Charley tried just about everything to stop smoking to include several failed attempts with hypnosis, acupuncture, special programs in Canada, and even local VA smoking cessation programs, all with no long-term success.

For Charley, what he still misses most is “lighting up and the mechanical and ritual habit of smoking.” While still reliant on nicotine gum to a degree, Charley is at a crossroads in his treatment but pleased to report an entire year of being smoke free. He credits the caring staff of VA’s Tele-Quit Program for his progress and ongoing recovery.  Charley specifically acknowledged Dr. Matthew Abrams, psychologist, and Jennifer Valvo, RN, BSN, as being key members of his Tele-Quit Program team. “They are great!” said Charley.

When you ask Charley why the Tele-Quit Program has been so successful for him, he cites the most important tool is the daily check-in process. When calling in, pressing “no” after being queried whether he smoked or not, said Charley, “gave me some satisfaction…like I was beating the problem – I was held accountable.” The team and reinforcement approach “worked for me; when I pressed “no” to smoking on the phone, it was like getting a much needed pat on the back,” remarked Charley.  

After one year of being smoke free with the Tele-Quit Program, Charley says he feels great, and he has been told by his staff that he has now dropped his risk of a heart attack and stroke by 50%. Lastly and emphatically, Charley firmly established that “my wife and daughter thanked me for quitting – they hated the smell of smoke. And though I am not completely nicotine free, I am smoke free. Hey, if I can quit, then anyone can quit.”   

Veterans interested in quitting smoking are encouraged to call 1-877-619-0106, select option 3 or ask their Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) about participating in the program.

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