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Massage Today
December, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 12

Serving America's Finest

Veterans see the benefits of massage and therapists find a calling

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

The men and women in uniform who serve our country so faithfully often come home from battle with a variety of health issues, both physical and mental.

And many of these brave warriors are finding that massage therapy is a great treatment for what ails them. Veterans hospitals are looking at the research and many massage therapists are finding that serving those who protect us is an honor and a special calling. Massage Today is pleased to announce that the 2012 Heroes of the Profession are all the therapists who faithfully serve our military heroes.

Returning soldiers and veterans from prior conflicts can suffer from a variety of issues when they return home. These issues include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, isolation, insomnia and other sleep disorders, fatigue, chronic pain, anger issues and even substance abuse. For many of these individuals, massage therapy is an affordable and drug-free option to help them deal with these issues.

VA Recognizes Massage

The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs has been keeping a close eye on massage and other complementary therapies as more and more veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have returned home with not only neuromuscular issues but mental health issues as well. An extensive study was published last year in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development and featured prominently on the Veteran's Affairs web site. The study, "Complementary and alternative medicine use among veterans with chronic noncancer pain" was conducted with the help of the Portland Center for the Study of Chronic, Comorbid Physical and Mental Disorders, the Portland Department of Veteran's Affairs Medical Center and the Department of Psychiatry at the Oregon Health & Science University.

America's Finest - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The results of the study were promising, with researchers concluding that the "results support efforts of the VA to increase access to CAM treatment options for veterans and suggest that the addition of massage therapy as a treatment option would be popular among veterans with chronic pain."

Helping Hands

A nationwide organization called Hands for Heroes ( recruits massage therapists to help in "healing our nation's protectors." Hands for Heroes reminds therapists that the work they do doesn't just benefit the returning soldier. "As health care providers, you are already aware of the profound effect bodywork has in alleviating pain, reducing stress and balancing lives. For every veteran to whom you provide service, this will in turn affect the lives of their family, friends and associates."

Hands for Heroes believes its mission "is to make available to our returning veterans, bodywork therapy through numerous health care centers and individuals across the U.S." When a therapist decides to become a Hands for Heroes partner, the organization provides marketing materials, a gift certificate template, a certificate to show the therapist's support for veterans and they can also include your business in its national registry.

Therapists who live close to military bases and see the service members and their families on a regular basis are also getting involved in serving this clientele on an individual basis. Robert and Melanie Sachs began working with now retired Brig. General James T. Cook, on the Welcoming Warriors Home project. This project also recruits therapists nationwide to offer returning veterans and their families complimentary health and wellness plans and services. So far, they have therapists, spas and yoga studios in California, Georgia, Idaho, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas participating in this program.

In their work, Robert and Melanie use specific treatments of Ayurveda. One of their most popular treatments is a process known as Shirodhara, where a fine stream of oil is poured onto the forehead for a period of time. They say that, "the result is a significant increase in serotonin, providing a deep sense of relaxation, which helps veterans with both mood and sleep issues." To learn more about this project and how you might become involved, visit Robert and Melanie's website at

America's men and women in uniform, and their families, sacrifice a great deal to protect our freedoms. They believe their calling is in service to their nation. Massage Today celebrates those therapists who feel called to serve these brave men and women. The healing touch you provide offers relief and comfort to those who have seen destruction and may have tragically lost fellow warriors in combat. In faithfully serving this amazing population, you have become our 2012 Heroes of the Profession.

Editor's Note: If you have a story about your work with veterans, tell us about it. Post it on our Facebook page, or send an e-mail to .


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