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Dynamic Chiropractic – March 25, 2008, Vol. 26, Issue 07

Commissioning DCs as Officers in the U.S. Military

House Resolution 294 introduced by multiple sponsors on Feb. 13.

By Editorial Staff

Representatives Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Thelma Drake (R-Va.), Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) have introduced House Concurrent Resolution 294, which calls for the Secretary of Defense to take "immediate steps to establish a career path for doctors of chiropractic to be appointed as commissioned officers in all branches of the Armed Forces for purposes of providing chiropractic services." The resolution, introduced on Feb.

13, 2008, is backed by both the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the International Chiropractors Association (ICA).

"Chiropractic inclusion in the officer health care corps of the Armed Forces is long overdue," said ACA President Glenn Manceaux, DC. "With passage of this resolution, not only will our men and women in uniform have access to the best treatment options available for musculoskeletal pain, but chiropractic inclusion [also will] significantly decrease military health care expenditures by reducing the number and prevalence of chronic structural injuries."

"Statutory authority has been on the federal statute books for nearly 15 years for the Secretary of Defense to commission DCs, but it has never been acted upon," commented ICA President Michael McLean, DC. "In order to provide for significantly improved quality of care, to enhance operational efficiency and to address the spinal health needs of all military personnel, passage of House Res. 294 is essential and is a top legislative priority of the ICA."

The full text of the resolution, which states the formal opinion of Congress and does not require the president's approval, is as follows:

House Concurrent Resolution 294

Expressing the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Defense take immediate steps to appoint doctors of chiropractic as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces.

Whereas the Secretary of Defense has statutory authority under section 3070 of title 10 of the United States Code to appoint doctors of chiropractic as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces, but has not yet made such appointments;

Whereas the urgent needs of military personnel in the field of operations include access to the widest possible range of health care options, especially in the area of care of the spine and related structures of the body;

Whereas providing military personnel in the field of operations with access to chiropractic care will increase the cost effectiveness of military health care expenditures by taking advantage of the conservative, drugless, and nonsurgical care option offered by chiropractic care;

Whereas back injuries are the leading cause of lost service time and disability in the Armed Forces;

Whereas military personnel in the field of operations or on shipboard can access chiropractic care only through commissioned chiropractic officers;

Whereas access to chiropractic care through commissioned chiropractic officers will enhance the combat readiness of military personnel by offering a non-pharmaceutical option for the health care needs of such personnel; and

Whereas the appointment of doctors of chiropractic as commissioned officers will make use of a highly skilled and trained pool of health care professionals and help to meet the growing demand for chiropractic care in the Armed Forces: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),

That it is the sense of Congress that the Secretary of Defense should take immediate steps to establish a career path for doctors of chiropractic to be appointed as commissioned officers in all branches of the Armed Forces for purposes of providing chiropractic services to members of the Armed Forces.

In 2000, Congress passed H.R.4205, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001. A provision in that act mandated 1) guaranteed access to chiropractic services for "all active-duty military personnel," 2) neuromusculoskeletal care - including subluxation care - "at a minimum," and 3) full integration "of chiropractic health care services into the military health care system."

That historic legislation, signed by President Clinton on Oct. 30, 2000, required that the Secretary of Defense complete development of a plan to provide these services to all three major service branches no later than March 31, 2001, and for implementation to be phased in over a five-year period. Despite that mandate, as of March 2008 chiropractic care is provided at less than one-fifth of U.S. military treatment facilities worldwide.


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