S05: Strengthening Integrative Medicine and Health across the US Military with Research, Evidence, and Collaboration

Mona Bingham1, Wayne Jonas1, Joan Walter1, Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III2

1Samueli Institute, USA; 2Army's Comprehensive Pain Management Campaign Plan, USA


The challenges and stressors from a decade of war have created a large number of Service Members with physical and psychological traumas associated with multiple deployments. These stressors are significant predictors of unfavorable health outcomes for soldiers and their families. Although numerous studies have documented combat-related symptoms leading to pain, PTSD and other stress-related issues, few studies have demonstrated effective strategies for enhancing coping to maximize total fitness and resilience through the deployment cycle. Complementary and integrative practices represent an approach that can provide a strong foundation for increasing resilience, decreasing pain and stress-related sequelae without stigma or drugs. Promoting healthy lifestyles and building resilience (stability and strength) are emphasized in many military programs, but the use and value of these programs has not been fully assessed - specifically the use of programs for mind-body has not been fully explored.     Total Force Fitness (TFF) is an approach to health and wellness for military Service members. The concept and work for TFF was developed with experts from operational, scientific, and educational communities at the request of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to examine the dimensions needed for total fitness, with a roadmap that included useful definitions, strategies, and metrics available to measure each aspect. Now signed doctrine, TFF is currently used at over half of the major military installations in the country. TFF consists of 8 interconnected domains that balance performance and readiness with health and well-being, with respect and acknowledgement of the importance of the mind-body connection.     Since 2003, Samueli Institute has conducted research in collaboration with military, VA, and other agencies to help contribute to a culture within military medicine that is more open and accepting of integrative and holistic medicine based on solid evidence.  We will explore integrative medicine best practices and evidence that have emerged from The Army Surgeon General”s Pain Task Force Report and operational order for decreasing physical and psychological pain and psychosocial symptoms, and the preventive role of mind-body practices to enhance performance, reintegration, and family relationships recognized by military leadership. Military partners who are key stakeholders and participants in the research progress and goals will be part of this symposium presentation.