Military Seeks Better Alternatives for Treating Pain Among Vets and Troops

NewsUSA  |  2015-12-01

(NewsUSA) - For years, the military has worried that an over-reliance on prescription painkillers was putting both veterans and active-duty troops at risk of addiction, serious adverse reactions to the drugs, and accidental death. The problem was found to be greatest among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan -- particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder -- who, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, may have been given "inappropriate prescriptions" for opioids in a misguided attempt to quickly relieve their suffering.

Finally, change appears to be coming as the military expands its use of alternative treatments like chiropractic care.

In fact, Dr. Robert D. Kerns, the national program director for pain management at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the New York Times that the study "encourages" his department as well as the Pentagon's health system, "to build on our existing initiatives."

That would be welcome news to Congressional committees following up on last year's Veterans Health Administration scandal.

"We have said for a long time that sending a veteran out of the door with a bagful of pills is not a solution," Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said in investigating allegations that a Tomah, Wisconsin, Veterans Affairs hospital was prescribing "excessive dosages of opiates."

As more research pours in, chiropractic care continues to gain supporters. A 2013 study published in the journal "Spine," for example, found that 73 percent of participating active-duty military patients with acute low back pain receiving a combination of chiropractic manipulative treatment and standard medical care rated their global improvement as "pain completely gone," "much better" or "moderately better."

Just 17 percent in the same study who received only standard care said likewise.

To learn more about chiropractic care or to find a chiropractor in your area, visitwww.F4CP.org/findadoctor.

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The Few. The Proud. The Marines.

Sal Arrigo  |  2015-11-19

Recently I had the privilege to meet Commandant Mark P. Hite of the Marine Corps League, Elk Grove, Calif., and Detachment 1238. Hite was a combat Marine during the Vietnam War, having served from 1964 through 1970. He achieved the rank of Staff Sargent E-6 and was attached to the 6th Marine Regiment. I told Hite that I heard about the phrase: “Once a Marine, always a Marine;” and asked him if this rings true for him? “I am a Marine in another phase of my life,” was his answer.

The “other phase” of Commandant Hite’s life is working to help fellow Marines and their families through the Marine Corps League. Established in 1923 and receiving its Federal Charter in 1937 through an Act of Congress, the League’s mission is to “join together in camaraderie and fellowship for the purpose of preserving the traditions and to promote the interests of the United States Marine Corps…”

There are several programs within the League that Marines work toward for the betterment of the community. For example, the Toys-for-Tots program, a well-known program of the Marine Corps, is assisted by the League through collecting and distributing toys to needy children, and by raising needed funds for the program. The League also has a scholarship program to help students with their college expenses.

One aspect that many people are unaware of is the Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org). Semper Fi, always faithful, is the well-known motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. This fund provides “immediate financial assistance and lifelong support to wounded, critically ill and injured Marines and FMF (Fleet Marine Force) Corpsmen and their families.” The fund, established in 2004, has issued 103,000 grants totaling more than $118 million dollars in assistance, with little to no red tape. Hite told me that nearby housing is provided for families when a Marine is rehabilitating or spending time in the hospital. “It is a major hardship for families” Hite said.

Commandant Hite mentioned that his grandfather was a Marine and that he always admired him for serving. I thanked Hite for his service and let him know that it was an honor for me to interview him. In fact, it is quite admirable what the Marine Corps League is doing in the greater Sacramento region. They are a nonprofit organization and if you are interested in making contact with them, try calling Commandant Mark P. Hite at (916) 687-8208 or send an e-mail inquiry to elkgrovemcl1238@mail.com. Their meetings are held the first Thursday of the month at the Elks Lodge in Elk Grove.

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Citing the tragic death of a veteran at the Mather Veterans Affairs hospital last year, Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. introduced a bill to implement additional accountability measures at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country.

His bill, the VA Quality Care Act, includes additional oversight measures to ensure all problems at VA facilities are reported, communicated, and fixed across the network.

“The tragic death of this veteran illustrates problems within the VA system that must be addressed,” Bera said. “My bill increases transparency and reporting so that any issues in the delivery of care at one facility are shared with other facilities in the system. The information from my requested investigation suggests that VA facilities are not sharing best practices and other quality improvement measures effectively. This bill will ensure doctors, nurses, and staff are all operating efficiently and effectively and collaborating across health centers to deliver the best care possible to our nation’s heroes.”

Last October, a Sacramento County Vietnam veteran died after a do-not-resuscitate bracelet was incorrectly placed on his wrist. Bera requested an investigation with the Office of the Inspector General; their report found that Mather was responsible for a “delay in life-saving intervention.”

“Our service members have sacrificed for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure they receive top quality care,” Bera said. “Based on the findings in the Inspector General report, there are institutional problems that are seriously affecting the quality and delivery of care. Reporting requirements in my bill will help correct and improve care. We must do all we can to ensure this does not happen to any other veterans.”

Source: Office of Congressman Ami Bera

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