For one local acupuncturist, being able to provide services for veterans is important. Both of Christy McKee’s parents served in the Air Force.
“So, this is my way of giving back,” McKee said. In 2015, McKee moved with her husband to Half Moon Bay and she purchased the practice at Coastside Healing Arts. She is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and graduated from Five Branches University with a master’s in traditional Chinese medicine.
About a year ago, McKee became a community service provider through the Veterans Health Administration in Palo Alto. Now, the VA can refer clients to her for acupuncture services.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine using thin needles on certain areas of the body to treat a variety of issues, such as pain, hormonal problems and even cosmetic things.
“It works primarily by eliciting a response in your body, and no one knows quite what it is. In Chinese medicine, we’d say it activates ‘qi’ or ‘energy’ in your blood,” McKee said. “It creates a minor micro trauma and your body has to address it. Acupuncture is aimed at accessing the ‘energy’ and encouraging it to move freely.”
McKee said she treats about five veterans on a regular basis, and the majority of them come for pain-related ailments.
Russell Bissonnette is one of McKee’s regular clients. Bissonnette is a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War and was discharged after two years of service for a medical injury. He’s also suffered injuries from a car crash many years later. After being encouraged by his girlfriend, Bissonnette started to see McKee for acupuncture sessions around three months ago.
“That lady is a wizard,” Bissonnette said. “I have had seven back injuries, and she gives me so much relief. I can not believe what has happened.”
Bissonnette, who was a former commander with the American Legion Post 474, works closely with veterans in the community, assisting them with access to services or benefits. Before seeing McKee for acupuncture, Bissonnette explained he found it difficult to stay motivated, and often he would just come home and sit at the house.
“I am really thankful for Christy,” Bissonnette said. “I had kind of given up, but she’s got me up and moving again.”
Bissonnette said he’s been approved for 20 more appointments.
McKee said working with veterans has taught her several things, most notably that acupuncture can be useful in treating new and old injuries.
Acupuncture helps her clients in three ways: by increasing circulation, decreasing inflammation, and alleviating pain, according to McKee. She said that it’s a safe and effective way to treat pain and reduce a veteran’s dependency on medications.
“They are some of my most loyal clients and are really appreciative,” McKee said. “And they are just so deserving.”