ACA to Capitol Hill: Military Health Care Severely Flawed

(Arlington, Va.) The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has expressed its outrage to Congress regarding the lack of chiropractic care available to veterans and active-duty military personnel as stories continue to surface about neglect and substandard care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military health facilities nationwide.

In a recent letter sent to members of the House and Senate Armed Services and Veterans Affairs (VA) committees, John Falardeau, ACA vice president of government relations states, “I thought it important to call your attention to another glaring example of the failure of the Department of Defense (DoD) and VA health systems to deliver the type of health care services—including care for pain relief and rehabilitative care—that our men and women who have served, or are currently serving, in our military both need and deserve.” Despite legislation requiring the DoD to make chiropractic care available to all active-duty military personnel, according to ACA, there are still no doctors of chiropractic assigned in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres of operations, where large numbers of musculoskeletal injuries occur on a daily basis. “The importance and appalling nature of the above deficiencies is made clear when one reviews available statistics concerning current war-related injuries,” says Falardeau. A November 2006 report from the Veterans Health Administration indicates that nearly 42 percent of veterans returning from the Middle East and Southwest Asia who have sought VA health care were treated for symptoms associated with musculoskeletal ailments—the top complaint of those tracked for the report. For years, the ACA has been lobbying Congress to more fully integrate chiropractic care—a proven and cost-effective health care choice—into the military and veterans’ health care systems. Legislation passed in recent years has established a permanent chiropractic care benefit for America’s veterans and active-duty military personnel. Despite these advances, however, chiropractic care is available at only 42 stateside military bases and at 30 VA facilities across the country. The ACA—and many veterans—strongly believe that integrating chiropractic treatment into the VA health care system would not only be cost-effective, it would also speed recovery time for those suffering from musculoskeletal pain. “Service members serving in combat areas typically haul more than 80 pounds of equipment daily,” says ACA President Richard Brassard, DC. “It’s easy to understand why an astounding number of men and women returning from overseas tours are seeking health care for symptoms associated with musculoskeletal injuries, primarily back and joint disorders.” Congressman Bob Filner (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, has indicated to ACA that he will work to expedite expansion of the chiropractic benefit in the veterans’ health care system. The legislation that Rep. Filner sponsored in the last congress would require the VA to have a chiropractor on staff at all 154 major VA medical centers within four years. While Congress adjourned last December without taking action on the bill, Chairman Filner is poised again to submit a similar bill. To view a copy of the letter sent to the House and Senate Armed Services and VA committees visit:

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