With his military and medical backgrounds it seems only natural that Kurt Bauer, HTCM USN (retired), would reach out and offer pain relief for members of the Armed Services, both active and retired. And over the past few years, he has been encouraged that the US Military is becoming more receptive to incorporating alternative medicine into patient treatment plans.

It was back in March of 2009 that a pilot program was approved to prepare and train 44 Air Force, Navy and Army doctors to use acupuncture as part of their emergency care in combat and front line hospitals in Iran and Afghanistan. The doctors were taught what’s called “Battlefield Acupuncture” which uses very short needles that fit better under combat helmets so soldiers can continue their missions while the needles are still in place relieving pain.

A medical director for the Air Force Medical Corps noted that not only did acupuncture dull the pain quickly but that it also came without the side effects that were common after taking traditional pain killers.

The “pill for every ill” approach to treating pain is being rethought on numerous fronts. The purpose of the Warrior Transition Battalion is “to prepare soldiers to return to their active duty unit or to become successful Army veterans in civilian life through medical and physical treatments and transitioning assistance—with acupuncture being one of the newer medical treatments being used.

One of the greatest features of acupuncture treatments is that the results are cumulative over time. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, which once started often have to be maintained for life, acupuncture often ends in resolution or recovery.

But even with the Army Surgeon General directing medical centers to incorporate alternative medicine like acupuncture into patient treatment plans, there’s still a battle to fight. TRICARE, the military’s own health plan for service members and retirees, still doesn’t cover acupuncture.

Of course, using Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat military injuries isn’t new. The martial arts contributed to the development of Oriental Medicine and countries such as China, Japan and Korea, where Oriental Medicine was first developed, have been using acupuncture on the battlefield for centuries.