The Department of Veterans Affairs is doling out narcotics to 160,000 fewer veterans than it was three years ago, a reduction of nearly 25 percent, and alternative treatments are on the rise.
In an email, the VA said it had trained 1,000 providers in “Battlefield Acupuncture” and now employs chiropractors at about half of its hospitals. Classes on stress management and relaxation are available at 112 VA facilities, the agency said, while the number of hospitals offering tai chi or yoga has doubled.
Still, many veterans also complain that the VA cut down on narcotics without a commensurate boost in alternatives. The result, said Anthony Hardie, director of the advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense, is that veterans often face long waits for treatment and remain in excruciating pain.
Hardie, a Gulf War veteran who battles neck pain, knee pain and fibromyalgia, said he was offered chiropractic treatment by the VA. But since the closest hospital is a nearly two-hour drive from his home in Bradenton, Florida, accessing that care would mean missing work.