Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and other mental health issues, back pain and nutrition assistance are among the issues United States military veterans and their families have sought to address at the National University of Health Sciences ̶ Florida (NUHS) Veterans Clinic since it opened in September 2018.
“We treat any kind of pain, nutrition or mental health issues,” said Brett Martin, DC, NUHS Assistant Professor of Basic Sciences and Veterans Clinic clinician, who also has a masters in acupuncture. The clinic offers veterans and their immediate family members free acupuncture treatment and a 20 percent discount for chiropractic treatment, lab tests and dispensary items. Dr. Martin and clinic interns see about 6-7 Veterans Clinic patients a week.
Acupuncture for Back Pain
Wendall, a veteran Air Force Senior Airman, learned about the program when Dr. Martin gave a presentation at an American Legion meeting. “My lower back had been bothering me for a few years,” Wendall recalled, “So I thought why not? I’ll give it a try.” He was so pleased with his experience that he recommended the clinic to other veterans in his neighborhood, who are now getting acupuncture treatment at NUHS.
“As a veteran, I don’t look for or expect anyone to give me anything,” Wendall said. “But it’s nice to know that some places value (my service) and offer the extra help,” he said appreciatively. “You can tell that Dr. Martin takes a genuine interest in his patients,” he said, adding, “The interns are knowledgeable as well.”
Student Interns Ease Pain with Acupuncture
Among those interns is Latesa Guerra, from Houston, Texas, who wanted to work with veterans to have exposure to the issues they face and develop a deeper understanding about working with a variety of patients. “I want to specialize in prenatal and pediatric care in my practice,” she explained. “I won’t have exposure to veterans and wanted to get that experience to see what kinds of issues they go through,” she added, saying she was surprised to have patients seeking help for menopausal symptoms and weight loss, as well as for pain.
Anya Hughes had a different motivation for applying for the Veterans Clinic internship. As a veteran who attended the Coast Guard academy, earned a mechanical engineering degree and spent six years in service, she wanted to help others. “I like giving back knowing what veterans have done for our country and our freedoms,” Hughes explained. “Being in the clinic takes that to another level by having the opportunity to help them have less pain and better living day-to-day.” With the intern rotations limited to 12 weeks, Hughes exclaimed, “I wish I could do this longer!”
Acupuncture for PTSD
Because of improvements in traumatic injury care, more veterans are surviving battlefield injuries and tours of duty during conflicts. This has resulted in an increase in PTSD among veterans and thus, the need for effective treatment.
PSTD can occur after any life-threatening, terrifying, or traumatic event and can include symptoms such as: emotional numbness, flashbacks reliving trauma, bad dreams, and feeling tense or “on-edge.” Certain acupuncture protocols have proven to be very effective in reducing these symptoms.
Veterans visiting the NUHS Clinic receive auricular acupuncture (using points in the ear) as part of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol. This system utilizes small pellets or needles in various points including the kidney point, which strengthens the body’s energy and immune system and controls fear and anxiety along with the liver point, which controls anger and has a detox effect on alcohol and drug abuse.
Veterans Services are available at National University's Whole Health Centers in Lombard, Illinois, as well. The veterans’ services at both clinics are sponsored in part by a generous contribution from China-Gel.
To schedule an appointment at the NUHS Whole Health Center, 6630 78th Avenue N., Pinellas Park, Fla., 33781, call 727-873-7870. For appointments at the Lombard clinic at 200 E. Roosevelt Road, call 630-629-9664.