**This is a guest post contributed by Chuck Baker.
In the past I have briefly discussed holistic medicine, and efforts that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had been taking to include such treatments in its care of veterans. Since then, the VA has made some additional efforts to include non-traditional treatments. Sometimes, civilian firms help lead the way.
Valerie Heath once sold telephone equipment to the military coast to coast. She met with active duty soldiers, and veterans who worked for the military. “I heard their stories,” she said. “I realized many of them needed help.” She had begun learning about various techniques to help individuals with emotional problems, and became an expert in Reiki and other therapies. Over time she felt that veterans who have difficulty connecting with traditional medicine could benefit from a holistic approach. Five years ago she opened Heaven & Earth Oasis in Los Angeles to offer holistic services. And in order to help veterans, she decided to offer her services at no cost to them.
Today she has a staff of 10 holistic healers and several other volunteers. She relies on non-veterans who pay for her services, and on donations and large public events such as golf tournaments and lunches. And she said that while the VA has begun to offer more and more of what her group does, it has a long way to go. Looking into the types of remedies offered, it seems that there are almost as many alternative treatments as there are veterans. For example, Heath offers Reiki, DNA Theta, water therapy, chiropractic therapy, massage, acupuncture and biofeedback, all practiced by certified and licensed professionals.
In Southern Nevada, a spokesperson for the VA said qualified veterans are often treated with auricular acupuncture, kinesiotherapy, osteopathic manipulative therapy and a wide variety of related services. His comments mirror what Heath reports about VA facilities in California. She said the VA has been offering similar treatments for veterans in the Golden State. And her organization helps to fill any void. “Thanks to our donors, U.S. servicemen and women are receiving at no charge, the most effective, professional holistic healing methods to help them recover, re-enter society and re-engage in productive work.”
According to the Army Times, National Guardsmen are a growing element of those who could benefit from holistic treatments. Guardsmen are quickly dropped from active duty once their deployments are over, and often leave the service with unfinished medical treatments. The quick out-processing means they are dropped in the lap of the VA with less than approved appropriate medical disability benefits. That’s where organizations like Heaven & Earth Oasis often come in, helping to fill a gap until Guardsmen can be officially signed with the VA. Heath explained that “I’ve worked with military and veterans groups for twenty years, and became aware that veterans need the most help to heal physically and emotionally,” she said. “For this reason, I was gripped by a determination to do something for them.”
*Chuck Baker is a free-lance writer specializing in veterans and military topics.