Free acupuncture available to veteransOct 6, 2015 By Kate Roenigk, Staff Writer
Two local acupuncturists have started offering free acupuncture to veterans at the Soldiers House in Riverton.
Licensed acupuncturist Soleiana Abernathy of Lander says the U.S. Army has been using acupuncture to treat anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for years. A 2014 article from the Army News Service says acupuncture has helped reduce the use of prescription medicine by Army patients suffering from physical pain as well.
The protocol Abernathy and licensed acupuncturist Alisha Bynum of Riverton use at the Soldiers House focuses on acupuncture to the ear and sometimes to the feet and hands. Abernathy said the technique makes the sessions accessible to larger groups of veterans.
"This way we can treat multiple people at a time," Abernathy said, "rather than having someone take off their clothes and lay on a table --we don't have room for that."
Lander therapist Charlie Wilson, who started the Soldiers House project, said only a couple of veterans came to the first acupuncture session this summer. The offering has been growing in popularity since then, however.
"(The group size has) been progressively going up," Wilson said. "It's been pretty well received. ... People sit down, get some needles (and) kind of chit chat with each other and the acupuncturist."
Abernathy said it's gratifying to see her new patients form a community through the experience.
"It helps their mood," she said. "It's been amazing to watch them interact, and the stories that come out. (It) helps people process."
The sessions are available 10 a.m. to noon on the first Monday of every month at the Soldiers House, 1201 E. Jackson St. Veterans of any era are welcome.
Wilson said the acupuncture offering is unique to the Soldiers House in Riverton. He is looking into other ways to help veterans relieve psychological stress through somatic, body centered therapies like yoga and theater.
"These are all processing activities that cause the brain to process memory versus just simply storing it," Wilson said. "What we're seeing in trauma treatment is a combination of working with the body and the psychology of it --the two kind of need to go hand in hand. ... We're promoting that."
For more information call the Soldiers House at 856-1244.