Military life requires many mental and physical challenges. For the troops to be in optimal shape, they undergo rigorous training. To maintain their overall health, chiropractic care can be a benefit to the troops and veterans.
Active-Service Military Chiropractic
Tricare, the military healthcare program, offers the Chiropractic Health Care Program to their active duty members, as well as those in the Reserves and National Guard, at designated facilities. “Chiropractic is a health care discipline, which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery.”1 While there are not yet any commissioned chiropractors in the military, access to chiropractic care has increased in recent years, although even more access would help to “satisfy the demand”.2 In order for the armed forces personnel to perform at their best, and to have overall mental and physical well-being, chiropractic care can still be increased. The military “cannot afford to have soldiers out of work”, according to Sgt. Lynn Grosvenor, DC, RT.3 The World Chiropractor Alliance would like to see the military commission chiropractors in all branches and to “create a Chiropractic Corps providing chiropractic examinations and adjustments”. Just as there is a Dental Corps, distinct from the medical one, chiropractic could also be treated as a separate group. The WCA would also like to see patients in the military have “direct access to chiropractic care” so that other providers are not needed to screen patients first. Currently, chiropractors have to have primary care physicians as a gateway for military personnel.4 There is certainly a need for chiropractic care. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a “decorated World War II Army veteran” is “concerned about injuries spawned by the weight of gear soldiers carry into combat”. A Johns Hopkins University study found that “musculoskeletal spinal injuries are now “double that of combat injuries” (and have increased over 10 times in the past 4 years). This costs a lot, both in terms of overall health, and in terms of the dollars spent on medical and disability benefits. The loads that the military carries have increased due to equipment and electronics (with heavy batteries).6 Chiropractic care could help to alleviate some of these physical stressors.
Veterans, Family Care, and Research
The Veterans Administration (VA) provides chiropractic care at 26 facilities. This care is provided “in consultation with VA primary care providers”.6 Families are not covered for chiropractic care. There are some chiropractors who offer discounted rates to active duty members and their families, as well as to retired military personnel.7 There are studies being done to show the benefits of providing chiropractic treatment for active duty service people. A large $7.4 million study grant was “awarded by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program” for a four-year project to assess chiropractic effectiveness in treating low back pain, reflexes and reaction time, balance, injury prevention, and strength. The Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research is involved in this study.8