Everyday Heroes: Oregon clinicians and Portland nonprofit provide free services to vets
Two Gresham doctors are providing free medical care for post-9/11 military veterans through a nonprofit organization called the Returning Veterans Project.
For a West Point graduate who served in the United States Army for 32 years and suffered back and knee injuries, the care has made a world of difference.
Col. Daniel Williams retired from the Army a year ago with a 100 percent disability rating by the Veterans Administration.
He endured back surgery and two left knee replacements related to two deployments to Iraq, and two to Afghanistan.
“I had gotten to a point where things just kind of stagnated,” Williams said during a visit to a clinic this week. “The swelling in my knee wasn’t going down. The pain was still there.”
His doctor recommended chiropractic and acupuncture treatments, two therapies not routinely offered by the VA.
That's when he heard about the Portland-based nonprofit, Returning Veterans Project.
He applied online and found the Balance Health & Injury Clinic in Gresham.
“By the second week when they started doing the acupuncture services on my knee, the swelling actually started to go down, the pain dissipated,” Williams said. “Without the services that they provide, I really had no other options other than to seek it out and pay for these myself or try and find other ways.”
Dr. Eric Strand and Dr. Daniel Desjardins began providing services to vets through the program in 2013.
“And what it allowed us to do was to be able to have an online presence where they could come find us and tell us this is what we want, this is what we need and get the needs lined up with what services there are,” Strand said. “They can come here at no cost.”
Strand retired from the Marine Corps in the mid-1990s with his own service-related disability and lingering pain.
Since joining the program, the clinic's provided 450 individual treatments to 33 veterans.
“This is the best part of what we, what I can do,” he said. “I feel like after my Marine Corps career ended this is how I can use that kind of brotherhood to give back to all of my compatriots.”
Col. Williams said that after six months of treatments at the clinic and traditional physical therapy, he's able to exercise again.
“I don’t think I would be where I am in my healing process had I not sought out the services and were able to in fact embrace them,” he said. “Everyone you know, they tell us that the military, you know that we’re the heroes for what we do, but I view these guys as the heroes to our heroes.”
The Returning Veterans Project provides referrals for medical services in Oregon and southwest Washington.
Veterans and family members directly impacted get those services for free.