Like other Americans, Veterans have grown increasingly interested in complementary treatment options to enhance wellness or address symptoms that are not well managed with conventional medicine. A 2014 study found that service members experienced chronic pain at a much higher rate (44% post combat) than the general population (26%). Veterans were also far more likely to be prescribed opioids compared to non-Veterans (15% v. 4%) to manage their chronic pain. Many Veterans view complementary and integrative treatment approaches as a means to limiting or avoiding the use of opioids and other pharmaceuticals that may have adverse side effects.
Based on these findings, Representative Julia Brownley (CA) introduced comprehensive legislation aimed at expanding Veterans' access to complementary and integrative medicine in VA medical centers.
The Expanding Care for Veterans Act, H.R. 1963, would:
- Require VA to develop a plan for expanding delivery and integration of complementary medicine within the Department;
- Create a 3-year pilot program to add complementary and integrative practices to the existing health benefits package in at least 15 VA medical centers and evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions for Veterans with mental health issues, chronic pain and other debilitating conditions;
- Require a study to determine barriers to Veterans' receipt of and administrators and clinicians' delivery of complementary and integrative health practices furnished by or through VA; and
- Create a grant program to complement services of individuals receiving counseling through VA's Vet Center programs.
Please write your Representative today to urge co-sponsorship and enactment of H.R. 1963. As always, thank you for your advocacy by participating in the DAV CAN (Commander's Action Network).