The Department of Veterans Affairs had started the long-overdue process of providing veterans with access to chiropractic care by placing doctors of chiropractic on staff at VA hospitals. The process of integrating chiropractic care in the VA system was initiated after Congress enacted a series of statutes in 2001-02 — Public Law 108-170 and Public Law 107-135 — that reinforced a permanent chiropractic benefit within the VA health care system and specifically directed the VA to hire doctors of chiropractic to provide care for veterans.

As a result of these congressional directives, the VA had been providing chiropractic care via hired contracted staff at 70 major VA medical treatment facilities within the U.S. Unfortunately, an overwhelming majority of America’s veterans still do not have access to chiropractic care because the VA had taken no action to provide chiropractic care at nearly 100 of its other major medical facilities. Despite important data demonstrating a significant need for chiropractic drug-free services within the VA, the disparity in access has been allowed to persist. A VA report released January 2017, stated that more than 62 percent of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn veterans who sought health care from the VA over a 14-year period were treated for back and neck pain as well as other musculoskeletal ailments, exactly what doctors of chiropractic specialize in. Back pain was in fact the number one ailment of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans.

Chiropractic spinal manipulation, what chiropractors are known for, is an evidence-based treatment for acute, sub-acute, and chronic back pain and can prevent, help reduce and even eliminate harmful opioid use by our honored veterans. It has been said one way of battling the opioid crisis is to dry up the demand across the market by reducing opioid prescriptions and developing other options for chronic pain. The chiropractic profession provides a nondrug care path to help do just that.

New research published in the medical journal, Lancet this month both validates the efficacy and recommends chiropractic spinal manipulation for back pain. In April 2017, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study supporting chiropractic spinal manipulation for acute low back pain. This study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of 26 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) the “gold standard” in physical medicine. Fifteen of the RCTs revealed moderate quality evidence spinal manipulation resulted in a reduction of pain and 12 RCTs revealed spinal manipulation resulted in improved function. This study came on the heels of another systematic review and clinical guidelines from the American College of Physicians published in February 2017 that also recommended chiropractic spinal manipulation.

So in part, with his signature, President Trump will help dry up the demand for harmful pain pills among our nation’s veterans.