The National Stand-Down for Homeless Veterans is an annual event that honors and seeks to physically and emotionally help homeless veterans. Each summer in San Diego, acupuncturist Mitch Lehman directs and organizes the National Stand Down for homeless veterans, held by Integrated Medicine Services. This year’s Stand Down will be held from the 17th through the 19th of July.
“For veterans, Stand Down is a place where someone has their back and they can rest and recuperate. Life on the streets is much like a battleground,” said Darcy Pavich, Stand Down Coordinator. “For three days we provide a place where our homeless brothers and sisters can access resources to change their lives, maybe even to save their lives, ” said Pavich.
During times of war the term “Stand Down” refers to the time of rest and recovery that exhausted combat units require before re-entering the fray. Today, Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 275,000 homeless veterans to “combat” life on the streets. Each year, hundreds of homeless veterans attend Stand Down.
Services Offered at the Stand-Down Event
While food and safety are at the top of the list, these resources also include medical care, legal services, substance abuse recovery programs, employment services, spiritual care, dental and chiropractic services, and even reiki and hypnotherapy. Professionals in each field provide these complimentary services. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego has participated in Stand Down for nine years, and this summer, 2009, PCOM will contribute an estimated 30 student and supervising practitioner volunteers per day to perform acupuncture and massage for the veterans.
The Role of Acupuncture and Massage in Supporting Veterans
Acupuncture and massage are ideal for this kind of event because they are highly mobile practices that don’t require heavy or expensive equipment, and they also provide immediate relief for many conditions. Acupuncture has been used to treat (or relieve the pain of) dozens of ailments. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recognizes its usefulness in treating addiction, fibromyalgia, headaches, cramps, back pain, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, asthma, and more. This is a unique opportunity for PCOM volunteers to show compassion while simultaneously demonstrating their professional skills and spread awareness of the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine.