Health and Wellness: Linking Black History and Heart Health Month
February is designated as Black History Month as well as Heart Health Month. As I reflect on the significance of each of these markers, I have been contemplating a potential link.
Since 1976, every U.S. President has designated February as Black History Month as a time to honor the achievements of African Americans and celebrate their role in our history. As the Director of Outreach for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, I also take time this month to reflect on the accomplishments of the millions of African American Veterans who have served our U.S. Military.
Until recently, I was unaware that in addition to February’s designation as Black History Month, each year a specific theme is also recognized. The theme for this year is “Black Health and Wellness”; therefore, it seems serendipitous that February is also Heart Health Month.
The purpose of Heart Health Month is to raise awareness of the importance of good cardiovascular health. Each February, national campaigns encourage people to improve heart health by exercising, eating healthy, knowing risk factors, reducing stress, and getting medical checkups.
More important than ever, as we have experienced a health pandemic unlike any before in our lifetime, we must practice self-care. This year, Black History Month will focus on Black Health and Wellness in order to acknowledge the contribution of African American scholars as well as to raise awareness of the activities their communities engage in to stay well.
When I consider the irrefutable contributions and accomplishments made by our African American Veterans, my heart warms. I am humbled to contemplate the challenges faced and the undeniable resiliency required to overcome the racial barriers experienced throughout our history.
At the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, we have a service mission to serve all veterans and in the eyes of the entire Department, this mission is a serious one. With this said, it is an honor to pay unique consideration throughout the year to specific veteran populations, to include women and other ethnic groups. We also highlight months designated to raise awareness of mental health, suicide prevention, PTSD awareness, month of the military child, etc.
This February, I encourage Marylanders to learn more about the 2022 theme for Black History Month. I also recommend that you follow our Facebook page and join our electronic newsletter distribution list (you can join from the home page of our website). Throughout the month, we will be posting links to videos celebrating the accomplishments of our African American Veterans as well as suggesting ways to stay heart healthy.
I am thankful for the service of every veteran who has honorably served this great nation. Especially though, this February, I am especially grateful for the contributions, strength, resiliency, and commitment of our African American Veterans. Thank you for your service!
Dana Burl, Outreach Program Director
MD Department of Veterans Affairs