Servicemembers and veterans experience chronic pain and chronic conditions such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at a greater rate than their civilian counterparts. The invisible wounds of war, the personal and familial stress of service, and combat experiences are just a few reasons for this difference. In our most recent IAVA Member Survey, over 40 percent of our respondents reported experiencing either PTSD, depression, or anxiety, and 38 percent reported suffering from chronic pain.
Treating these chronic conditions continues to challenge the military and veteran health care system. IAVA has continued to work with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the community to emphasize the importance of an integrated system of care. We believe the use of evidence-based treatments for mental health, including complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), gives servicemembers and veterans all the resources available to combat their conditions in the best way possible.
CAM treatments are therapies outside the normal realm of care such as chiropractic, acupuncture, meditation, and guided imagery. And they are most often used as additional treatments for challenging conditions like chronic pain and anxiety. About 30 percent of IAVA members use these types of therapies in their own lives.
According to a recent RAND report, CAM treatments are effective at improving quality of life and reducing pain, stress, and anxiety. Over 80 percent of military treatment facilities currently offer CAM treatments to active duty servicemembers, aiding our forces in getting, and staying, strong and healthy.
Chiropractic care and acupuncture showed the greatest impact on servicemembers’ care, including reduction in medication use. Many IAVA members use these services as well; 29 percent of respondents in our latest survey reported using chiropractic care, while 17 percent reported using acupuncture.
IAVA advocates for the best care for servicemembers and veterans; often, that includes alternative therapies like chiropractic and acupuncture. Though research into alternative therapies is nascent, studies like this one from RAND allow us to identify how and when CAM services are used. IAVA will continue to lead on innovative healthcare solutions; you can join us by signing up for our email list here.