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Acupuncture Today – August, 2009, Vol. 10, Issue 08

Acupuncture Collaboration with the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marines

By Joe C. Chang, MAOM, Dipl. OM, LAc

These past several months have been a true testament of passionate people who want to help soldiers. Previously, I've talked about studies that have shown clear cost in dollars of treating our returning veterans, as well as the value of using solid evidence-based research to treat them.

Below, I've given just a few highlights of how integrating complementary and alternative therapies are helping heal our soldiers as they return from war.

Back in the spring of this year, representatives from the Naval Medical Center at San Diego and the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., came to Ft. Hood for a site visit at the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. The goal was to collaborate and share information on our integrative posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) program. The representatives were able to visit the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program for two days, on our mental health protocols and aspects of the complementary and alternative medicine.

All of the representatives from the U.S. Army agreed while there is no single treatment program that has been proven to provide exactly what our service members need, everyone agreed that an integrative, holistic approach will enable our soldiers to heal from their trauma and provide the best service to our warriors that they deserve.

Advocates for an intensive PTSD program at the U.S. Army were convinced that the traditional methods of treating PTSD are not always long enough in duration, intense enough or comprehensive enough. The Traditional treatment programs are modeled after those utilized for survivors of civilian traumas and not for Soldiers who will be asked not only to face their traumas, but to redeploy into the same environment multiple times. Therefore, a PTSD treatment program that incorporates the integration of medical massage, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, marital/family therapy as well as reiki with standard treatment protocols of cognitive-behavioral therapy, cathartic psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy may turn out to be the most effective in addressing all aspects of PTSD.

On another front, I have been working to incorporate acupuncture into the Evans Army Community Hospital and am about to add acupuncture services as a pain-management modality for the department of surgery. Additionally, opportunities to add acupuncture into the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Washington State Derpartment of Veterans Affairs for the treatment of PTSD, in conjunction with standard mental health protocols, are ongoing and are likely to result in an integrative approach for our veterans in the near future.

Our veterans deserve the best possible health care. Complementary and alternative therapies, including acupuncture, will play an integral role in that.

Editor's Note: The representatives from the Navy came to visit the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program to learn about it and see how similar programs might be implemented at Navy military treatment facilities.


"The views expressed in this article (book, etc.) are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Marines, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations herein are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marines, and the U.S. Navy."

Joe C. Chang is a second-generation acupuncturist and has worked as an acupuncturist and researcher at two integrative post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) programs for the United States Army. Joe C. Chang, MAOM, Dipl. OM, L.Ac., is a second-generation acupuncturist and has worked as an acupuncturist and researcher at two integrative post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) programs for the United States Army.

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