Jumping out of an aircraft, frequently carrying and lifting heavy loads, and running with body armor are not uncommon tasks in the U.S. military.
With duties such as these, it is not surprising that chronic back pain is a common complaint among veterans.
What may be surprising: chiropractic care is not available at nearly 100 major VA treatment facilities.
There is a bipartisan effort to change that.
The Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act of 2017, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), would require the VA to provide chiropractic care to all of its medical treatment centers by the end of 2020.
Chiropractic care at the VA improved over the past decade after Congress enacted a series of statutes, which included specific directives requiring the VA to hire doctors of chiropractic, and place them at VA healthcare facilities. Prior to Congress acting, no DCs served at any VA treatment facility, and veteran’s access to DCs was limited to referrals by VA physicians
Referrals were so rarely provided, that as a practical matter access to services provided by DCs were virtually non-existent. As a result of the Congressional directives, the VA currently provides chiropractic care at 70 locations, but most veterans do not have access despite the fact that it is available for some through the VA’s Choice program.
“The overwhelming majority of America’s eligible veterans continue to be denied access to chiropractic care, because access to the services provided by doctors of chiropractic is often times non-existent at nearly 100 major VA treatment facilities that comprise the major sites where VA care is offered,” said John Falardeau, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy at the American Chiropractic Association.
In addition to alleviating chronic back pain, chiropractic care could be an alternative to opioids, as treatment plans offered by chiropractors are nonpharmacologic. When considering the use of medications to treat pain, chiropractors are instructed to weigh the benefits of the patient, as well as the potential risks of dependency, addiction, and opioid abuse.
Falardeau is hopeful that the bipartisan supported legislation will be passed as part of a larger package “sometime this year.” There is companion legislation in the House as well.