Acupuncturists Without Borders

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

ON MARCH 19, 2009, the U.S. Senate Armed Services
Committee held a hearing on the increasing number of
suicides in the armed forces.
The high ranking officers attempted to provide a strategy
for preventing this crisis among the military services
following a January where US soldier suicides exceeded
combat deaths and 2008 which ended with the highest
number of suicides on record.
The testifying officers made a tepid attempt at addressing
the genuine root cause of these suicides.
One could easily surmise that eight plus years of war
and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, with multiple
troop deployments, ultimately set the groundwork for the
disturbing trends that followed.
The officers proposed strategies to mitigate the issue
perhaps until they can redeploy the individuals again or at
best, release them from the military whereby they are no
longer their concern, thus washing their hands of the situation.
Regardless of the military’s response to this crisis,
local communities are taking notice of the stresses and
anxiety of our veterans.
One such organization, Acupuncturists Without Borders
(AWB) is an example of what caring and compassionate
people can achieve when they take a proactive strategy
in helping communities during what they call “crisis
resulting from disaster or human conflict.”
AWB is providing a community veteran’s clinic for U.S.
military veterans, current members of the Armed Forces,
and their immediate support network.
AWB was formed in 2005 in the aftermath of hurricanes
Rita and Katrina with a vision to partner with local
organizations and “offer the services of volunteer acupuncturists
to provide treatment to interrupt this cycle of pain
and chaos and relieve suffering.”
The local clinic was formed with the help from AWB
acupuncturist Katie Davidson, in conjunction with Urbana-
Champaign Friends Meeting (Quakers), and input from me,
a member of Central IL Iraq Veterans Against the War.
With politics aside, AWB set out to host a free clinic
that aims to help relieve the stress many veterans experience
from past and current conflicts and the stress of transiting
from military to civilian life.
It is also open to family members who are taking care of
The treatment consists of having 5 small needles placed
into both ears while sitting relaxed in a chair for approximately
20–40 minutes.
The clinic is held every second and fourth Tuesday of
each month from 6-7:30 pm at the Urbana-Champaign
Friends Meetinghouse at 1904 E. Main Street in Urbana.
Much research has shown the positive effects of acupuncture
treatment for stress and anxiety reduction. Articles
about such treatment have appeared in the New York Times,
Military Officers Association of America, and the National Center for Complimentary and
Alternative Medicine.
In a section of the Journal of Alternative
and Complementary Medicine, the
authors state that, “In the treatment of
anxiety neuroses, generalized anxiety,
preoperative anxiety, and post-traumatic
stress disorder, (PTSD) acupuncture
seems very promising.” There have been
very positive responses from veterans
and family members who have attended
the clinic.
I decided to try the treatment out and
found it to be a very relaxing experience.
As a combat veteran, I know how tough
it can be returning back to civilian life, and
those of us who are lucky enough to make
that seamless transition should never forget
that there are many who do not.
Many suffer from feelings of isolation,
despair, anxiety, depression, and worse yet
Though the clinic makes no claim at permanently
healing or fixing such symptoms,
they do provide a free and positive alternative
that has shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
It is our responsibility as veterans and
citizens to extend an open hand to other
veterans and their family members who
may be experiencing stress.
A great way to do this is in partnership
with people like Katie, Charlotte Green, Barbara
Kessel, Bobbi Trist, Ann Donovan, Merlin
Taber, Sandy Bales, and Gayle Mohr who
spent countless hours planning and donating
their time and resources to host this clinic.
They have displayed a great amount of
selfless generosity that should not go unnoticed.
For me, it comes as no surprise that
the military continues to remain reactive to
issues like those mentioned above, but that
means as community members we need to
counter it by being proactive in addressing
those same issues in innovative ways with
alternative methods for those veterans residing
in and returning to our communities.
For information about the clinic, email
Barbara at or call Bobbi
at (217) 351-9298 and on weekends at
(217) 766-1335.
You can visit AWB at www.AcuWithout-

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.