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A True American Health Hero: Brigadier General Rebecca Halstead Recognized at West Point

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Brigadier General Rebecca Halstead was the first female in U.S. history to command in combat at the strategic level, and is a recipient of the 2007 national Women’s History Project Generations of Women Moving History Forward. She was the first female graduate of West Point to be promoted to Brigadier General. She entered West Point in 1977 as a member of the second class to include women and graduated in 1981.

On November 2, 2011 at the Thayer Hotel at West Point General Halstead was honored as a room at this historic hotel was named in her honor. berkAs Board Members of the Association of NJ Chiropractors,  Dr. Donald DeFabio of Berkeley Heights and Dr. Robert  Blozen of Holmdel were invited to attend this historic event and had the great privilege of meeting and interviewing Retired Brigadier General Rebecca Halstead, who is now a national spokesperson for Foundation for Chiropractic Progress.

Her commitment to service is admirable and empowering. She continues to live daily her West Point Pledge of the putting the mission first and never accepting defeat. As a spokesperson for the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, a national public awareness program for Chiropractic, she brings home the message that drugless chiropractic care is an essential part of maintaining an active lifestyle focused on wellness.

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While General Halstead was honored for her military achievements, it is her post-military role as a spokesperson for Chiropractic care that has been making the most impact across the country.

Halstead was the keynote speaker for the Association of NJ Chiropractors (ANJC) at  the 2011 spring convention in April where she shared her positive experiences with Chiropractic and was a participant in a Covenant Signing ceremony for the “Healing Hands for Heroes” program. At the event, the ANJC announced it is teaming with Army OneSource, a U.S. Army Community outreach program and the Army Community Covenant to raise awareness of the unique challenges of military life on our service members and their families and to address the growing need for accessible health services by launching “Healing Hands for Heroes.”

The program allows returning veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars for free for a minimum of 60 days.

Simply put, the Healing Hands program allows participating doctors of chiropractic to serve our veterans. According to Dr. Donald DeFabio the reasons to join  the program are clear: “After all, they served all of us by putting their lives at risk, so it is only logical that I return the favor by giving them free care. Like our serviceman and women, I also believe in the American traditions of liberty, justice and freedom and want them to know that I am on their team. I tell them to consider me the "team doctor" for veterans and active duty personnel.”

Veterans throughout the state can find a participating chiropractor in their area by visiting www.njchiropractors.com.   

After 27 years of service, Brigadier General Halstead decided to retire after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia – a medically unexplained syndrome affecting the muscles and connective tissues. Currently, the disease affects as many as 12 million Americans and has been reported two times as prevalent in deployed veterans (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 7, 2005, Vol. 142 No.11).

Initially, Halstead was prescribed every drug imaginable, though the pills only masked the pain and resulted in a spiral of reactions affecting her psychological and physical health. It wasn’t until a close friend suggested chiropractic that she was able to find relief and return to a normal, nearly pain-free life. She discovered that the comprehensive treatment of chiropractic care improves joint motion, reducing and in some cases eliminating the pains and symptoms associated with fibromyalgia – such as fatigue, sleep deprivation and depression.

To hear her speak on readiness, fibromyalgia and chiropractic click here:  

Currently, access to Chiropractic is not available to active military and only some VA hospitals. Halstead is committed to making that change through education and legislation. "Our troops’ effectiveness is based on readiness, and chiropractic is an essential component of being physically ready."

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