September 25, 2013 — Since 2010, National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) has offered more than 3,600 free acupuncture treatment sessions for combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Clinicians and interns at the university’s “At Ease” clinic have helped dozens of veterans and their families improve their quality of life by effectively reducing the symptoms of PTSD.
Several veterans helped by the acupuncture clinic found a way to say “thanks” to the university by donating insignia patches, photos, and other mementos from their time spent in military service. The first veteran who started the idea donated the patch insignia from his unit and encouraged others to donate patches from their regiments or branch of service. The aim was to create a visual representation of the broad range of veterans affected by PTSD, helping to remove the stigma associated with the condition and encourage future patients that there is hope for recovery.
The university has made a special display of the vets’ donations in the clinic, creating a wall of honor that celebrates their service. The display boasts items from all branches of military service, representing vets who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the current conflict in Afghanistan.
“The acupuncture has improved my gait, helped me sleep, and is helping relieve the pain of a shoulder injury,” said Thomas Ozuk, a Vietnam veteran who also works at the nearby Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. The treatment also helped him with morphine withdrawals when he chose to reduce his reliance on pain medications.
Since then, Ozuk has referred several fellow veterans for acupuncture at NUHS. “I refer as many veterans as I can because I hope that some of them are able to reduce their reliance on prescription drugs like I did. I believe that this form of acupuncture treatment may reduce the incidence of suicide in PTSD sufferers as well.”
“The veterans keep coming back week after week,” said Jordan Anton, an intern and acupuncture student at NUHS. “They’re happy and seeing results. I’m learning things I probably never would have learned about PTSD anywhere else. Not many schools give you the opportunity to do this. After I graduate I’d like to work in a VA hospital or open my own practice and offer free care on certain days for veterans.” Anton also helped the veterans create and maintain the insignia display.
Vets visiting the NUHS clinic receive acupuncture using the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol. This system uses small pellets or needles in key points on the ear. Additionally, vets can receive instruction in simple Tai Chi and Qi Gong movements for deep relaxation and a way to deal with stress. Veterans with chronic pain from injuries are given “take-home therapy” in the form of acupressure micro-points they can stimulate for quick pain relief, as well as eye-movement therapy they can use at home to re-program traumatic memories.