Since it’s beginnings, chiropractic has been used to help keep American military personnel in fighting form. The Department of Defense was authorized to commission chiropractors in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush and in 1999 the Chiropractic Health Care Demonstration Program found that chiropractic care would offer significant benefits to the military. Specifically, the results showed that:
- Chiropractic care demonstrated higher levels of patient satisfaction than traditional medical care
- There were superior outcomes for patients who received chiropractic care than those who received traditional medical care
- Chiropractic care resulted in fewer hospital stays
- Significant improvements in military “readiness” were found due to significantly less duty time lost for those who received chiropractic care as opposed to traditional medical care
Despite these results and the above-mentioned governmental authorizations, there are still no commissioned chiropractors in the US Military. This is an unfortunate situation due to the incredible need in our military.
Not surprisingly, musculoskeletal problems are the most common type of medical issues showing up at VA hospitals. Military gear is heavy, sometimes weighing up to 60 pounds, 8 to 12 pounds of which is weighing down on your neck in the form of a helmet. And that is before you figure in the weight of a rucksack filled with ammunition, batteries and weapons that must all be carried by the soldier on a daily basis.
Retired Brigadier General Rebecca Halstead, now a spokesperson for the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, has first-hand experience of the benefits of chiropractic care for those in the military. After being diagnosed in 2004 with fibromyalgia (a chronic disease that makes muscles and joints feel stiff and painful, causes fatigue and other symptoms), she was prescribed 17 different medications to treat her pain and sleeplessness over a five-year period, none of which were effective. On the advice of her father, she visited a chiropractor, which as she said “gave me my quality of life back.” She is now free from medication and continues to receive regular chiropractic care. (You can see a video of Gen. Halstead below)
Technically, chiropractic care is available to military personnel. However, actual access to that care is often very difficult. First of all, Tricare, which covers all medical care for the military, requires that any treatment be received only at a designated military treatment facility after a referral from the service member’s primary care physician; Tricare will not cover any chiropractic care outside these facilities. This would not be such a problem except for the fact that chiropractic care is available at only 40 of the approximately 160 VA treatment facilities throughout the US. And despite having a contracted or hired chiropractor at 60 military bases around the country, only 54 percent of eligible service members have access to chiropractic care, according to a 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office. The waiting list to see one at a VA hospital can range anywhere from 90 to 120 days. This is unacceptable.
The way to solve this problem, according to Halstead, is to have Congress approve all chiropractic coverage with Tricare. She says, “If we can get Tricare to cover it, then tomorrow the benefit would be there for all of our soldiers, no matter how many treatment facilities it would be in. Because if it’s not in the treatment facility, then I’ve got enough chiropractors in the local community that I can go get the help. I personally think that’s the fastest way to bring visibility to how wonderful this service is, because then more soldiers would be going to chiropractors. More soldiers, then, would not be on sick call. More soldiers would be doing their mission every day.”
This is one reason we have our “Veterans Free Care Program”. To allow our service men and women the access to the chiropractic care they deserve. If you or someone you know is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I encourage you to take advantage of this program. Fortunately, there are several programs like this around the country and most chiropractors will at least offer a discount to military personnel. You can also help spread the word to other veteran’s by telling them about this country wide program. To find a participating doctor in or near your area, visit the ICA website at www.chiropractic.org and (search for a volunteer chiropractor).
Dr. Jason Schluter is a Chiropractor in Tulsa, OK at Schluter Chiropractic.
Schluter Chiropractic is conveniently located off Memorial Drive in Tulsa, Oklahoma and provides quality chiropractic care to Tulsa and the surrounding areas.
To schedule an appointment, call (918) 664-3571 or visit www.DrSchluter.com.