Chuck Baker: Holistic treatments part of VA medical

In 2016, in one of my columns I 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.

Here in Southern Nevada, a spokesman for the VA said the federal agency in North Las Vegas “leads the nation locally in integrated pain management.”

He said qualified veterans are often treated with auricular acupuncture, kinesiotherapy, osteomanipulative 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.”

Nye County veterans who want to inquire about related VA programs can contact several government-affiliated agencies via web at http://bit.ly/2DJtqKX

Nevada satellite facilities offer treatments in Tai Chi, guided imagery, deep breathing relaxation, flotation therapy, chair stretching and in some cases, music lessons as a gateway to healing.

Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.

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