Marching Forward Documentary Highlight’s VA’s Research of Alternative Medical Treatments for Injured Veterans
Since September 11, 2001, nearly 2.6 million American troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them came home to face all new battles, say military medical negligence attorneys with Jacksonville’s Spohrer & Dodd. Physical and psychological injuries can be complex and difficult to treat with currently accepted treatment options. That’s why the Department of Veterans Affairs has spent more than $65 million to research yoga, acupuncture and other alternative treatments since 2010.
In Marching Forward, a new 21-minute documentary, several retired and active military members share their experiences in getting effective medical and non-medical help for their service-related ailments. Options that are working include acupuncture, movement therapies like yoga and even juggling, and the always controversial medical marijuana. Such treatments may offer promise to veterans like retired Army National Guard Specialist Ryan Terry, prominently featured in the documentary.
The VA prescribed 24-year-old Terry up to 19 medications a day for post traumatic stress, depression and chronic physical pain. Still, his VA physician says that Terry’s goal to be 100 percent pain-free is unrealistic. And while the VA continues to research viable alternative treatments, it can take upwards of 14 to 17 years before new treatment options become accepted standard practice, says former Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker. Meanwhile, medication and psychotherapy remain the only PTSD treatments approved by the national VA, yet 40 percent of those diagnosed with the disorder report using alternative medicine already, according to the National Center for PTSD.
The good news is that VA clinics in many areas are more open to offering veterans an array of both traditional and alternative treatment choices. But because VA capabilities vary with location, many veterans are opting to seek additional or even substitute treatments from private medical care providers instead. And, at the time of Marching Forward‘s post-production earlier this year, upwards of 118,000 post-9/11 veterans were waiting for the VA to process their claims – something that can take months. The total backlog of VA claims has hit just over half a million.
America’s returning veterans suffering from service-related physical or psychological injuries deserve effective and timely treatment. If you’re one of them, contact a military medical negligence attorney experienced in dealing with VA-involved cases.
Marching Forward was produced by News21, a national multimedia, investigative reporting project involving some of the nation’s top journalism students.