Military veterans often return from service with a host of physical, mental, and emotional challenges related to their tours of duty. Rarely does a service member present with just one health issue. A 2014 study summarized the challenges associated with treating veterans and their often complex medical issues.
The study said, “Veterans of all war eras have a high rate of chronic disease, mental health disorders, and chronic multi-symptom illnesses (CMI).(1-3) Many veterans report symptoms that affect multiple biological systems as opposed to isolated disease states. Standard medical treatments often target isolated disease states such as headaches, insomnia, or back pain and at times may miss the more complex, multisystem dysfunction that has been documented in the veteran population. Research has shown that veterans have complex symptomatology involving physical, cognitive, psychological, and behavioral disturbances, such as difficult to diagnose pain patterns, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, or neurocognitive dysfunction. (2-4) Meditation and acupuncture are each broad-spectrum treatments designed to target multiple biological systems simultaneously, and thus, may be well suited for these complex chronic illnesses. The emerging literature indicates that complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) approaches augment standard medical treatments to enhance positive outcomes for those with chronic disease, mental health disorders, and CMI. (5-12.)”
Veteran’s Affairs Whole Health Approach
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs understands the challenge and advocates for a whole health approach in providing care to its veterans. According to the VA, “Acupuncture is one of the complementary and integrative health (CIH) approaches within the VHA Whole Health System of care included in VHA Directive 1137 – Provision of Complementary and Integrative Health, published in May 2017. This allows acupuncture care to be covered by the Veteran’s medical benefits package, when clinically necessary, as determined by the patient’s care team. In February 2018, a Qualification Standard was published that permitted licensed acupuncturists to be hired to provide acupuncture care at VA Medical Centers (VAMC).”
Specifically, the VA understands the value acupuncture has in treating multiple conditions. It defines the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture as follows, “Acupuncture is often associated with pain management, but it also may be useful for other conditions, and the body of literature for acupuncture effectiveness is growing. Acupuncture may be effective as a stand-alone treatment or as an adjunctive treatment to other medical interventions. An evidence map of acupuncture was developed by VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) in 2014. This systematic review identified evidence of potentially positive effects for several pain conditions, including chronic pain and headaches, mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD, and wellness indicators such as insomnia. Acupuncture is generally considered safe when practiced by appropriately trained acupuncture providers.”
If you are a military veteran and suffer from chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety or depression, or PTSD, acupuncture can help relieve the symptoms associated with these types of conditions. Talk to your insurance provider and make an appointment with an acupuncturist today. Remember, it is not just a single issue or symptom, acupuncture is recognized as addressing the health of the whole body, achieving a mental and physical balance to the body’s energy. Schedule a consultation to get a treatment plan in place today. Take advantage of this whole body approach and improve the quality of your life today.