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Acupuncture on the Mountainside

USAF Veteran Ronnie Leeth receives battlefield acupuncture (BFA) from VA Dr. Dan Federman.

USAF Veteran Ronnie Leeth receives battlefield acupuncture (BFA) from VA Dr. Dan Federman.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Building on the success of providing acupuncture to Veterans during the 2017 VA Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego, VA acupuncturists and clinic support staff served Veterans again at the 2018 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic (NDVWSC). Known as “Miracles on the Mountainside,” the program encourages health and healing through adaptive recreational therapy for over 400 Veterans each year. Recently, the national rehab program has begun to include integrative health clinics, introducing Veterans to complementary practices such as acupuncture, yoga, massage and more.

Acupuncture is an integrative health practice that involves inserting tiny needles into specific points on the body. Acupuncture treatment is used for chronic pain management and treatment of other physical, mental and emotional conditions.

“I had to try it out. Guess what? I’m glad I did,” said Navy Veteran Juan Sandoval. After an auto accident in 2001, Sandoval was paralyzed and continues to have nerve pain in his back and elbow. “I’m able to push my chair. I’ve got flexibility back. The pain is so low and it’s still going down. I’m sure going to talk to my provider,” Sandoval said.

Recently added to the VA Health Benefits Package, the practice of acupuncture, as well as yoga, massage, tai chi, clinical hypnosis, biofeedback and more, is quickly growing as a common, evidenced-based, treatment option for Veterans receiving care within the VA Health Care System.

Alison Whitehead, National Program Manager for the Integrative Health Coordinating Center (IHCC), explains that exposing Veterans to acupuncture at the NDVWSC was one of the goals of this year’s event. Over the course of those four days, 74 veterans were seen in the acupuncture clinic, mostly for pain conditions. Both traditional acupuncture methods and Battlefield Acupuncture (a specific ear acupuncture protocol) were performed in the clinic.”

Coordinating and support staff member Janet Durfee explained, “we had some lessons learned and what encouraged us is one third of participants came through the acupuncture clinic.” Average Veteran patient satisfaction was high and the team recorded pre- and post- treatment pain scales with an average pain reduction of 2.5 points.

Future acupuncture clinics are now in development for the VA National Disabled Veterans Tee Tournament in Iowa City, IA September 10-14, 2018

Read another story about the 2018 NDVWSC and acupuncture on the Vantage Blog: View more pictures of the events at


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