Our Work

The Military Stress Recovery Project

The Military Stress Recovery Project (MSRP) provides free acupuncture treatments for veterans, active military personnel, reservists and their families. This work is part of AWB’s Community Service Clinic Program which serves all types of communities affected by traumatic events.

Acupuncturist Soraya Applegate providing ear acupuncture and acu-tonic treatments to Marines in Hawaii, 2016. Photo credit: Katie Fisher

The MSRP began in 2006 with a pilot clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and currently includes over 30 AWB-affiliated clinics across the country. As AWB trains more practitioners through its “Healing Community Trauma” educational program, additional clinics are being established.

AWB created the MSRP program during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because so many soldiers and veterans were suffering the effects of trauma without effective treatment within the military medical system. Pharmacological treatments for post-traumatic stress (PTS) have been shown to be relatively ineffective and can create chemical dependence with devastating side effects, including increased suicide rates. AWB has pioneered the use of acupuncture as a safe, effective, non-pharmacological therapy for returning soldiers that fills this trauma treatment gap.

Currently, the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Affairs Administration are supporting research on the efficacy of acupuncture for treatment of combat-related pain and trauma. Increasingly, acupuncture is being integrated into health services provided on military bases and in VA hospitals. AWB’s work over the past decade has helped make this happen.

Treatments offered in the MSRP program are based on the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) ear protocol, which has proven to be extremely powerful in alleviating symptoms of stress and trauma. During treatment, people sit fully clothed in a room together, often in a circle of chairs, and a licensed acupuncturist places 5 tiny needles in each ear. Recipients are invited to close their eyes and rest for 30-45 minutes as the acupuncture does its work. In many MSRP clinics, the NADA protocol is supplemented with additional ear, scalp, or body points. Clients at MSRP clinics experience benefits such as a full night’s sleep for the first time in years and fewer bad dreams. They experience improved mental clarity, less anxiety and depression and a renewed interest in social relationships and community. Many subsequently report that they are able to reduce medication dosages for a wide variety of symptoms that are co-morbid with stress and post-traumatic stress, including pain and insomnia.

The potential of this program is enormous. History has shown that the long-term impact of war takes a tremendous toll for decades. By providing free acupuncture to veterans who have recently returned from war, we can play a part in preventing history from repeating itself. By offering treatment for veterans from previous wars and conflicts, we take part in helping mend the psychological wounds of the past.

The beauty of acupuncture is that it is a simple, low-cost modality offering immediate, effective, easily accessible support for large numbers of people. It can also work harmoniously with other more conventional treatment modalities such as counseling and medication.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Military Stress Recovery Project please send an email to veterans@acuwithoutborders.org or call 505.266.3878. We look forward to hearing from you!

For information on how this model is now being used in community service clinics that treat other populations, please see AWB’s Community Service Clinic Program.

Also Available: The AWB Community Service Clinic Manual

This is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to setting up Community Service Clinics for veterans, active military, their families, and other populations affected by trauma. It was created based on AWB’s experience in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and is full of useful documents, consent forms, safety protocols, press release templates, posters and more. The Manual is a “working document” which can be revised as we all learn and grow with the Military Stress Recovery Project and AWB’s other Community Service Clinics. So please keep us updated on your learning and progress!

Cost:

Free PDF file to AWB Training attendees and paid registrants
$75.00 for non-trainees.

To purchase the Community Service Clinic Manual, please call our office, 505-266-3878.

Military Stress Recovery Clinics

All of the clinics listed below are independent entities run by local acupuncture volunteers, and have no legal affiliation with AWB. We collaborate as part of AWB’s national Military Stress Recovery Project. AWB makes no guarantees about the services provided, and is not legally responsible for those services.

I served two tours of combat in Vietnam. I’m 100% disabled because of PTSD. When I first started coming to the AWB clinic in Albuquerque, I had spent years suffering from high anxiety. I believe that because of the acupuncture I have become calmer and my anxiety has drastically come down. I don’t want the new vets to suffer for years like I did. Acupuncture is helping me get my life back.

Raul Rojas

Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation. If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war. And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves, and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.

Thich Nhat Hanh