No uniform needed to serve your country
Do you ever wonder how you can make a difference for our military? To learn the answer, we talked with Palmer Chiropractic Clinics Community Relations Coordinator Julie Johnson, D.C., C.F.M.P., who spear-headed the development of Palmer’s Military Care Program. This unique program has provided more than $3 million in complimentary care to active-duty, veterans and their dependents since its inception in 2008.
“When I was a little girl my grandfather, a WWII vet, would say, ‘you don’t need a uniform to serve your country, honey. Just do what you can.’ I never forgot that, and it’s what inspired me to champion the Military Care Program.” Caring for our military and their families can be a way to serve our nation. The service must be sincere, cautions Dr. Johnson. “Working with military posts cannot be approached as just a marketing tool. You must have a genuine heart to serve.”
Consider your options. Dr. Johnson says there’s three main ways chiropractors can serve our military.
- Those with a desire to serve full-time can seek VA employment at a chiropractic site-of-care.
- Private clinicians can seek to become contracted health-care providers or contracted referral sources for the post’s medical clinic. For those seeing this population it is also important to collect data and work with the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research to ensure this data is used.
- All chiropractors can advocate for improved access to chiropractic care by communicating with their local, regional, and national representatives about the vast need for chiropractic care for our military populations. (Currently Tri-Care does not provide coverage for chiropractic care, and chiropractic care is only available in about 6 percent of VA hospitals and clinics.)
“Relationships are crucial to the process.” To create relationships, Dr. Johnson encourages involvement in committees and events that may be available through the post. For example, Dr. Johnson and other Palmer staff regularly participate in employee health fairs, picnics, lunch-and-learns, and town-hall events at the Rock Island Arsenal. She also encourages involvement in civic and veteran service organizations (VSO) like the Association of the United States Army.
Ask, “What do you need and how can I help?” Dr. Johnson emphasizes how important it is to partner with leadership. “Look for ways to support what they are trying to achieve,” she says. “Avoid bringing in your own agenda and be open to the specific needs of this population.”
The need is vast. Disease and Non-Battle Injury (DNBI) impacts more than one-third of our active-duty service men and women, the majority of which are musculoskeletal. “If a D.C. approaches a post with a desire to serve, they must have a plan or be ready to create one. The ability to define how they can serve, where they can serve and what kind of volume they can manage is important,” says Dr. Johnson.