Members of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, on March 4, discussed pain management techniques for veterans during a field meeting in Concord, New Hampshire, reported The Associated Press. The group, chaired by Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., traveled to the state to examine innovative pain relief methods employed at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers in Manchester and White River Junction, Vermont.

Reps. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., and Frank Guinta, R-N.H., invited the committee.

Doctors at White River Junction VA Medical Center prescribe acupuncture, aquatic therapy and yoga to local veterans with chronic pain, reported Vermont Public Radio. The reasoning is simple: the state is at the center of the ongoing opioid crisis. Deaths attributed to drug overdose are up 113 percent since 2013, reported Al Jazeera. This crisis has had a major impact on veterans, as many return home with battle scars that cause long-lasting chronic pain. Often, VA physicians prescribe addictive painkillers to these individuals, which can lead to drug dependency.

Many ex-servicemembers go out of their way to avoid opioids. Carol Hitchcock, an Iraq War veteran, came to the medical center in White River Junction looking to do just that. Hitchcock had injured her shoulder in the service and could no longer stand the pain. She needed help but refused to take painkillers. So, physicians at the hospital tried acupuncture and it worked. The procedure changed her life.

"I sleep, which I hadn't done for a number of years," she told Vermont Public Radio. "I can actually sleep now because of this. The pain is not there. I guess it's cyclical, right? So I feel better, so I am healthier, so I sleep better and my weight is under control now, so everything just aligns."

During their March 4 hearing, Coffman and his fellow legislators praised the hospital for its work but asserted that the VA needed to offer more support to physicians developing such treatments.

"The department can't simply introduce well-intentioned programs and then fail to manage them properly," he said. "If these alternative treatments really work, they need to be implemented rapidly."