Acupuncture in the United States Military

Acupuncture in the United States Military

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War has been fought in many different ways since the beginning of time. Our soldiers face chemical warfare, psychological warfare, guerrilla warfare, gas warfare and the list seems endless. Different types of warfare require different types of treatment when our soldiers come home. So often it is heard, “He came home, but he never really came home.” This is a psychological disorder that often comes with nightmares and the soldier forgetting where he is and who he is around.

Scientific technology has come a long way in caring for the many needs of our military. However, it is evident that the military’s needs in healthcare have changed. antidepressants that can cause suicidal tendencies until you find the right one are not a safe treatment option for military troops.

Treatments using complementary and alternative healthcare are proving to be more effective with less side effects. If acupuncture is used properly by a trained practitioner, side effects are infrequent and minor. They include feeling relaxed, elated, tired, and having point sensation or itching (Nielsen Arya, 2014). Acupuncture has been proven to relieve chronic pain, tension headaches and migraine prophylaxis (Nielsen Arya, 2014). Twelve prospective surveys were studied of over a million treatments reporting the risk of serious and adverse reaction after receiving acupuncture was estimated to be 0.05 per 10,000 treatments (Nielsen Arya, 2014). These calculations make acupuncture safer than most common medical treatments.

Many institutions, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, ran surveys to determine if the physicians’ attitude toward or referral for acupuncture affected the patient’s decisions (Sean N. Halpin, 2014). The surveys concluded that it didn’t make much of a difference to the patient what the physician’s opinions were, unless the physician suggested acupuncture would increase patient satisfaction (Sean N. Halpin, 2014). It is coming to an age where our military’s needs are changing. It is evident that Veteran Affairs is looking into alternative treatments to help the soldiers who come home wounded, but is it happening fast enough?

This survey was performed at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and there are too many variables that could leave veterans to fall through the cracks. The medical center’s physicians do not know enough about acupuncture to be able to properly educated patients on the risks and benefits offered by the treatment. Physicians need to understand if they give a referral for acupuncture, are there availabilities in the near future and there is a clear lack of veteran physicians to meet the demand of veterans seeking acupuncture (Sean N. Halpin, 2014).
There are more and more scientific pills offered on the market each day. The side effects, however, are sometimes worse than the ailment the medication is supposed to help. Also, the medications seem to cost more every time you go to the pharmacy. Our military active duty, veterans, or Coast Guard, need something that works without causing any more complications. It is clear to me that alternative and complementary medicine is the truest option to serve those who are serving me.

By Jeanette Smith

Sources:
Nielsen Arya, M. H. (2014, May 7). Acupuncture for Military Personnel Health and Performance. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(5), 417-418. doi:10.1089/acm 2013.0369 (Print)
Sean N. Halpin, W. H. (2014, November). Physicians’ Influence on Veterans’ Decision to use Acupuncture. Patient Education and Counseling, 97(2), 211-215. Retrieved January 28, 2015 (Print)

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