Bracken Gilliam knows about overcoming challenges. The San Diego resident underwent his first open-heart surgery at age 20. He underwent another eight years later.

Now a model of health, Gilliam – who secured his certification as a personal trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine – is dedicated to helping others remain on their path to wellness.

“The VEBA Resource Center is absolutely invaluable in being a place where you can develop a plan and follow through on that plan.”

Gilliam’s future was threatened after a heart murmur discovered during a physical while being hired for a new job led to an aortic valve replacement. His recovery was slow. He gained weight. Relied on painkillers. Recovery seemed to take forever. That’s when he turned to holistic healing. Bad habits were broken. Mental health and nutrition were a priority. Workouts came easier. The excess weight melted away. Soon, friends and family and co-workers were approaching him for tips.

Holistic health proved vital during his recovery after a second heart surgery. Now a certified personal trainer, Gilliam works as a mobility and health coach at the VEBA Resource Center.

The VEBA Resource Center, Gilliam said, is making a difference every day.

“Something like this has never really been done before. We offer a variety of approaches, acupuncture, yoga, stress management, health and wellness coaching. It’s unique and it’s effective.”

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