Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Woman Willing to be on the Front Lines

I had the honor today of interviewing retired Brigadier General Rebecca Halstead.  She is the first female graduate of West Point to become a General.  She was the first woman General, of any branch of the military, to command troops in a war.  (Iraq - 20,000 soldiers)  And now, in retirement, she has a new mission - to promote the chiropractic care that keeps her a force to be reckoned with.

Becky, as she asked me to call her, ended her career in the military before she or the Army would have liked.  She suffers from fibromyalgia.  The debilitating and painful disease caused her to spend years on drugs.  She tried chiropractic treatments on the reccomendations of a friend from West Point.  She received some relief.  However, war called and Becky had to go to Iraq.  So, wanting a clear head to command, she gave up the pain relief drugs and headed to war. 

Once back in the states however, she gave in and began medication again.  She still wasn't getting the relief she needed, but she was muddling through.  Then she was approached about the potential of getting her second star, making her a Major General, she debated it, but felt she couldn't give it her all because of her disease and decided on retirement instead.  Like many in the Army she lived by the idea of going out the way she came in - on her own two feet.

Not long after retirement Becky's friend contacted her again about seeing a chiropractor.  Becky remembered that it had made her feel somewhat better and decided to give it another try.  This time she was able to give the treatments more time to work and they made an immense difference.  In fact, she is now drug-free.  She no longer needs the myriad of pain reducers she was using before.

That was it for Becky, she knew she had a new mission - making chiropractic available for all soldiers, airmen and sailors in the military.  Currently it's only available on about 40 bases.  It was approved for all installations in 2000, but the funds were never approved to fulfill that.  Becky also found that her military insurance wouldn't cover getting help outside of a base.  She is working today to encourage the defense department to allocate the promised funds for bases.  Meanwhile, she is asking taxpayers to contact their members of Congress to support a bill that would force the military's insurance TRI Care, to cover chiropractic off base.

Becky believes she would not have been forced into retirement by her health if she could have gotten proper chiropractic care in the military.  In fact, she believes that good chiropractic treatment can help defray costs and keep the men and women in the military better ready for combat.  Musculoskeletal pain causes a lot of time off in workplaces throughout the country.  But in the military this can be a particular problem with soldiers already stretched thin due to wars on multiple fronts.

Becky, the retired General, keeps a grueling schedule speaking on multiple topics across the country, all made possible by the chiropractic care she is now a spokesperson for.  Her leadership and passion in the face of disease is an inspiration.

It was a pleasure and an honor meeting her and it has inspired me to face my demons as well in hopes of coming out the other side just as strong as her.  For more information on her work, click here.

Yours in health,

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