2019 Military Stress Recovery Project Update

2019 Military Stress Recovery Project Update

Download the PDF of this update here!

Since 2006, Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) has trained over 6,000 licensed acupuncturists to offer trauma-healing treatments to people affected by disaster and human conflict. Many AWB-trained practitioners have gone on to create healing projects in their communities for veterans, active duty soldiers, reservists, first responders, and their families.

These projects are part of AWB’s Military Stress Recovery Project, a network of thirty free Community Service Clinics serving wounded warriors and their families. MSRP clinics offer over 30,000 treatments annually to help people recover from the emotional and physical wounds of war. They offer safe haven for warriors and their families to connect with one another, feel less isolation, and receive support.

Click here to see a list of MSRP clinics.

Stories from people served in AWB MSRP clinics in 2019:

Acupuncturist Ida Mat Harris treating women and children  

“Healing Circle Veterans Acupuncture Project (HCVAP) is part of AWB’s MSRP network, started in Sep 2013, and since then we have served approximately 500 military and first responders including their families. Our goal is to help alleviate some of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experienced by combat veterans and active duty, both its degree and severity, over time. We hope to bring healing and peace into the lives of those who receive treatment, as well as to help their families and their communities. We expect this work will help reduce anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, violence, suicides, substance abuse and other difficulties often experienced by those with untreated PTSD.” 

-Ida I Mat Aris   
InnSpot coordinator and veteran Guy Page with first responders

“I feel amazing after one session. I cannot wait to go again and I’m so grateful to have met Guy (coordinator)! Thank you. Living in pain and with PTSD is manageable thanks to AWB and #theinnspot!” 

– Danae Wakefield, after receiving treatment at the InnSpot, an MSRP clinic in San Diego 
Don Lau and friend at BAYVAC, an AWB community service clinic for veterans in San Francisco

“I came back from fighting in Vietnam with a broken heart.  I saw horrible things and did them too, so I know that mine was not the only broken heart… Until I had acupuncture, I could not sleep through the night for over 40 years. I feel like my life is coming back to me after a very long nightmare. I’m very grateful to get the acupuncture that is healing my body and soul.”

~Don Lau, Vietnam Veteran from San Francisco

Thank you to the volunteer practitioners and donors who make the AWB Military Stress Recovery Project possible!

Update on AWB California Border Project

Update on AWB California Border Project

Since January 2019, AWB has been working at the US-Mexico border to bring trauma healing treatments to migrating people and community volunteers. Our work began in Texas, and has expanded to California, where AWB volunteers have taken two week-long service trips since August, 2019. We’ve treated hundreds of people-asylum seekers and refugees who face devastating living conditions, legal challenges, and health problems – as well as community activists and health practitioners who often suffer from secondary trauma due to their tireless, supportive work.

AWB acupuncturist and trainer Julia Raneri providing treatments in Tijuana, October 2019

AWB is working with the Refugee Health Alliance in Tijuana, as well as local migrant support organizations in Southern California. We offer direct service (acupuncture, herbal medicine, body work) and are training local practitioners, to expand services and access for thousands of people who need help with physical and emotional pain.

AWB’s goal is to train enough practitioners to provide weekly trauma-reduction acupuncture services in Southern CA-Tijuana locations within the next year.

AWB acupuncturist Ida Mat Harris treating women and children, October 2019

For more information on the AWB CA Border Project, contact Carla Cassler at director@acuwithoutborders.org.

AWB field team at the border, October 2019

Volunteers Needed for Sonoma County Fires

Volunteers Needed for Sonoma County Fires

AWB & Integrative Healers Action Network (IHAN) are looking for licensed/certified integrative medicine and health practitioners with malpractice insurance AND administrative support staff to volunteer at an Integrative Health Clinic we are setting up inside the Red Cross shelter in Healdsburg. As of right now, there are over 100 people staying in this shelter who have evacuated the fires in the Northern Sonoma County town of Geyserville. Trauma response symptoms are common among fire evacuees and can be expressed through symptoms such as physical pain, anxiety, stress, and insomnia that integrative medicine and health practitioners have many tools to offer to those in need. Those staying at Red Cross shelters are usually the most underserved members of our community, so this is an opportunity to provide healing and support to those most in need.


PRACTITIONERS: Are you interested in volunteering? The Red Cross requires that only licensed/certified practitioners with malpractice insurance can volunteer inside their shelters. This means: acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, massage therapists, clinical homeopaths, integrative MDs, DOs and nurses. While we absolutely recognize the validity of other types of practitioners, we are not currently able to accommodate those without an active license/certification and malpractice insurance.

1. Go to integrativehealersactionnetwork.org
2. Click on “Volunteer Registration”
3. Register as a Practitioner
4. Submit your $35 donation to cover the administrative costs of your registration.
5. Complete the Volunteer Questionnaire and submit to info@integrativehealersactionnetwork.org
6. Please email a copy of your malpractice and current license to info@integrativehealersactionnetwork.org along with your Questionnaire.
7. You will be receiving a separate email from our partner, Asurint, who conducts our background searches. Please follow the instructions in the email and complete the Asurint paperwork as soon as possible.
8. Once the above steps are complete, our Volunteer Coordinator Cynthia will contact you for a quick phone call and will get you on the schedule to volunteer.

For More information contact AWB Volunteer Coordinator Catherine Herbin at coordinator@acuwithoutborders.org and 203-814-6639.

AWB Begins Support for Migrating People at the California-Mexico Border

AWB Begins Support for Migrating People at the California-Mexico Border

Mobile integrative treatment team from the Refugee Health Alliance, including AWB volunteers, at Jardins de Mariposa, a shelter for LGBT asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico (August 2019)

AWB volunteers Julia Raneri, Meg McDowell, Jennifer Trombley, and Carla Cassler just returned from four days at the Enclave Caracol Clinic (sponsored by the Refugee Health Alliance) in Tijuana, Mexico. This is the first of regular service trips that AWB will be making in the coming year to provide trauma and pain relief treatments to asylum seekers, immigrants, refugees, and community support volunteers in the Tijuana-San Diego area. AWB already has a similar project in Texas.

Over 9,000 people are waiting in Tijuana for asylum processing, many living in shelters under very difficult conditions. The Refugee Health Alliance was created last year “to help mobilize Southern California providers and their networks down to the Tijuana/San Diego international border to aid in the refugee crisis.” The Enclave Caracol Clinic, staffed by volunteer medical providers, herbalists and midwives, is open weekdays to provide integrative medical services to the migrating community. On Saturdays, additional volunteers staff mobile clinics in shelters throughout Tijuana, where people are living while they wait.

On this first service trip, we treated many people (most from Honduras, Haiti, and Cameroon) for significant pain and trauma patterns. We also worked with clinic herbalists to enhance a wonderful pharmacy that includes many traditional Mexican herb remedies. Over the next months, as we work with the clinic staff, we will learn more about traditional healing practices and herbal medicine used in Mexico and Central America, and offer Chinese medicine as a complement. 

We plan to train local practitioners to provide treatments, and work on the California side of the border to support asylum seekers once they are within US borders.

Special thanks to the Mayway Corporation for donating huge amounts of herbs, to Lhasa OMS and Acurea Medical for acupuncture supplies, and to Kurt Chilcott (CA Endowment) and Patricia Simpson for financial support for this project. If you would like to participate in this project, please contact Carla Cassler at director@acuwithoutborders.org.

New Border Project Video Posted

New Border Project Video Posted

Please check out our new video, AWB Bridging Borders, which documents our work with immigrants, asylum-seekers and community volunteers at the Texas/Mexico Border. Thanks to Diana Fried and Naike Swai for their work on this!

There is a humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. Large numbers of refugees are camping out for weeks and months on or near the international bridges connecting Mexico and Texas. They hope to enter the United States legally; many seek asylum. They have few resources and are in desperate need, relying heavily on grassroots volunteers from the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) for sustenance. If allowed into the U.S., they spend additional weeks or months sleeping on the floor in harsh conditions in detention centers at the border, where only minimal clothing and food are provided. From there they may be deported or eventually released, sometimes hundreds at a time, with no resources and often nowhere to go.

Between January 4 and January 6, 2019, an 8- member team representing Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) conducted 4 acupuncture trauma-relief clinics in the RGV in response to this humanitarian crisis. We partnered with Angry Tías & Abuelas of the RGV to identify local connections and site locations. Our goals were to offer primary trauma relief to asylum seekers and secondary trauma relief to community first responders.