By Acupuncturist Dr. Jeannette “Jett” Kerns, AP, DOM, L.Ac., St. Cloud, FL owner of East Lake Acupuncture
In recent years, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has made significant progress in expanding the availability of complementary & alternative medicine services to veterans. These services are based on the Whole Health model, which delivers healthcare that centers on the unique needs and goals of each veteran.
Rather than focusing on “what is the matter” with the veteran, the primary focus is on “what matters to the veteran.” One example of proactive approaches to veteran’s healthcare is the Well-Being Model, which incorporates stress reduction techniques, yoga, T’ai Chi, nutrition and acupuncture into treatment plans. It is through one of these programs that veterans now qualify for acupuncture at no cost to the veteran.
The United States is facing a national opioid epidemic and the medical system is in need of drug-free strategies. Acupuncture has emerged as a powerful, evidence-based, safe and cost-effective modality suitable to meeting this need. Acupuncture can help reduce pain while simultaneously treating both opioid addiction and the associated withdrawal symptoms including stress and anxiety as well as helping to prevent relapse.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and the Joint Commission have started to advise or mandate that healthcare systems and providers offer non-pharmacologic treatment options for pain control. Acupuncture stands as the most evidence-based, immediately available choice to fill those needs and has been recommended as a first line, non-pharmacologic therapy by the FDA and NASEM.
The Military Healthcare System (MHS) has shown increasing interest in acupuncture as an alternative to opioids for pain control and in a recent study examining acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating pain in a military cohort of 172 at a U.S. Air Force medical center, acupuncture dramatically decreased the use of opiates and other pain medications among personnel. Opioid prescriptions decreased by 45%, muscle relaxants by 34%, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by 42%, and benzodiazepines by 14%. Quality of life measures also showed impressive changes.
How it works: The veteran must ask their VA primary care provider for an acupuncture referral. The provider writes the order and submits it for approval. Once the care is authorized, veterans may seek treatment from a provider in their community through two Non-VA Coordinated Care (NVCC) programs: 1. Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) program and 2. Veteran’s Choice Program (VCP). Due to delays in processing paperwork veterans are advised to contact the community care provider (acupuncturist) if they do not receive a call within three days.
Orlando and Lake Nona VAMC approved provider:
East Lake Acupuncture
Dr. Jeannette “Jett” Kerns, AP, DOM, L.Ac.
1401 Budinger Ave., Ste B
Saint Cloud, FL 34769
VA care coordinators:
Roy Matthews 407-646-4388
Luis Irizarry 407-646-425