Providing health care for veterans is as old as conflict itself. And although the concept is odd and somewhat disconcerting, treating injuries on the battlefield has given the community experience that has provided continuous improvements in medical technology through the centuries. In the same fashion space age research brings mountain climbers to a summit, you can be medevacked from an accident by helicopter to have emergency surgery, your cuts closed by special glue, and your heart remotely monitored by technology created to serve soldiers on the front line.
However, our current deficit in health care for the military isn’t in the fast action trauma unit. The current challenge is in managing long-term care and chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, of which veterans are twice as likely to have.
So it may be no surprise the VA hospital is exploring new options, including complimentary and integrative health, to meet these growing healthcare needs. Things like meditation, yoga, acupuncture, tai chi, and some nutritional supplements have found their way into scientific study at the Veteran’s Administration and likely much more into veteran’s lives at home. And while these modalities may seem to new to many, many of these have been practiced for decades, if not centuries, and are demonstrating a notable amount of both scientific and anecdotal success.
Either way, giving multiple options for the same problem brings veterans up to speed with a more futuristic individual approach to health care, and the need is quite urgent for some.
Whether it’s conventional providers recommending integrative therapies, or integrative providers such as naturopathic doctors or acupuncturists on their team, the objective is the same. When they’re brought home safe, we still do everything in our power to keep them that way, even if it means exploring new methods.
Dr. Brendan Smith, ND, discusses the more holistic approach to diabetes and cardiovascular care that the Bastyr Clinic for Natural Health offers patients.