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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center


77-year-old Veteran Quits Smoking

John Crawford

Veteran John Crawford successfully quit after being a smoker for 55 years.

By Erin Curran, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

At the age of 77, and as a smoker for 55 years, John Crawford started feeling the effects of smoking. He had never experienced any smoking related health issues until about 4 months ago. With an increase in shortness of breath and a nagging cough, Crawford remembered his primary care physician telling him about a smoking cessation class at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

"I couldn't even go to the mailbox and back without stopping to catch my breath—it was that bad," said Crawford. "The severe 'smoker's cough' and shortness of breath scared me. I had never tried to quit. I thought I was immune to smoking problems."

Crawford began attending the smoking cessation class at the medical center each Tuesday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. He is proud to say that he is now 3 months smoke-free! He found support through the education and classmates he shared Tuesday afternoons with. The classes are led my Kathy McCormick, Substance Abuse Coordinator, and offer reminders on the hazards of smoking as well as information on various medical aids that are available to assist in kicking the habit.

"Mr. Crawford came to smoking cessation with the belief that he was giving up his best friend," said McCormick. "As he shared and listened to others in the group, he came to believe that this was something he could do and wanted to do. The smoking cessation group was designed to decrease barriers for Veterans wanting to quit smoking. The group is an open door group where Veterans are provided with education, motivation and rewards for their progress."

After just 2 weeks in the program Crawford was already realizing the positive effects of being smoke free. A family trip to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC required a substantial amount of walking to get around and view the art, history and zoo. Crawford was surprised to find that his breathing and cough were already improving and he was able to enjoy that time with his family.

"I have found the whole experience of quitting to be much easier than I anticipated," said Crawford. "I am getting support from my family and classmates and my health has already improved significantly."

Any Veteran enrolled with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is welcomed to attend the classes by meeting in the mental health outpatient waiting room on the fifth floor of the medical center at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. For more information on the smoking cessation class you can contact the Lead Smoking Cessation Clinician at 843-577-5011 ext. 5601.


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