Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA)

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Justice Network - Integrative Therapies

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Integrative Therapies
by Sister Eileen McKenzie

“In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.” - Brennan Manning

Since 2001, about 2.5 million U.S. troops have been deployed in wars, with over a third deployed more than once. Increasing research of the invisible wounds of war reveal that approximately one in three returning service members report symptoms of some form of mental health or cognitive condition. The top three conditions are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and traumatic brain injury. In spite of high public concern, a presidential commission which examined the issue and recommended improvements, policy changes and funding shifts that are already under way, fundamental gaps remain in the treatment of the mental health of returning soldiers. The primary gaps, according to Rand Corporation, are in understanding the needs, the costs of these conditions and the care systems available to deliver treatment to them.

Lisa Grant, a member of the FSPA Justice Network and an acupuncturist who serves with Integrative Therapies of La Crosse, Wis., is a military veteran dedicated to responding to this gap in care by providing free acupuncture treatments for vets. She has worked for years in acupuncture veteran clinics, offering treatments which have a growing body of evidence in helping symptoms of PTSD, depression, pain and insomnia. Receiving acupuncture in a safe, calm, community-oriented environment is an opportunity for healing for those who come to Integrative Therapies for treatment, including vets and their families and friends. Learning about the invisible wounds of war for community members who do not share militarym experiences is a necessary part of creating a caring, supportive, healthy community and advocating for societal changes that make necessary care accessible to all who need it.

Left untreated, PTSD, depression and TBI can have far-reaching and damaging consequences. People who live with these conditions face higher risks for attempting suicide. They have higher rates of unhealthy behaviors (smoking and overeating), physical health problems and mortality. These conditions impact relationships, disrupt marriages, affect parenting and cause problems in the lives of their children. There is also a possible link between these conditions and homelessness.

This is not solely a vet issue. We all pay the costs stemming from reduced quality of life, homelessness, domestic violence, the strain on families and suicide. The invisible wounds of war hurt all of us. As Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, we advocate for necessary change in systems to more effectively treat those who live with the wounds of war—and we take a preventative approach to all forms of violence by advocating for peace.

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