Giving 'back' to the community: Chiropractor in The Woodlands donates services to veterans
THE WOODLANDS, Texas – The hip bone's connected to the back bone, the back bone's connected to the neck bone, the neck bone's connected to the head bone.
Dem Bones is a childhood song we all remember, but the point is, things often connect for the greater good.
For example, Dr. Todd E. Hatch of Sunrise Chiropractic Group connected to the MS150, which connected him to the Wounded Warrior Project, which then connected to the creation of the Wounded Warriors Volunteer Association.
Some 10 years ago, Hatch was on an MS150 bicycle ride from Houston to Austin when he came across riders representing the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans.
Curious to learn more, Hatch later ventured on a Wounded Warrior Project bike ride from San Antonio to Corpus Christi. That ride was supposed to be one day, he said, but ended up taking three.
"It was so windy there were times it would take an hour to go four miles," Hatch said. "I also never knew you could go uphill all the way to Corpus. I call it the ride from hell."
On the flip side, all that extra time on the road gave Hatch plenty of time to learn more about veterans.
"I got to hear their stories, how other people treated them, what their needs were, and how much they and their families sacrificed," Hatch said. "It really had an impact on me. I got home and realized that sometimes you can't wait for other people to do things … sometimes you have to be the one to do it."
That's when Hatch created the Wounded Warriors Volunteer Association.
Its mission is to connect Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (October 2001 through the present) with healthcare providers who agree to provide quality care at no cost to the warrior.
That doesn't mean back pain, neck pain, migraines, TMJ or other chiropractic issues need to be service-related in order for WWVA to help. And veterans do not have to have been deployed to a combat zone. All that matters is that they served the military in some capacity.
Willis resident Kari Federico was deployed to Iraq twice, but it was when she was back home and pregnant that her back started bothering her.
"I was looking online for chiropractors that saw military members at a discounted rate," Federico said. "I found out Dr. Hatch did it for free. He's now seen me through both of my pregnancies. It's amazing there are people in the world who have never served in the military themselves, but still sympathize with the sacrifice and dedication it takes to serve the country. He has a heart large enough to say 'I want to give back to those who gave for me'."
Hatch had long been interested in a career in the healthcare field, eventually settling on chiropractic care.
"I felt like it had potential for growth," he said. "It's not a new field, but it's more accepted now. That means there's more opportunity to expand and do different things with it."
Hatch graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor of science degree in 1987, followed by his doctorate at Texas Chiropractic College in 1993. He has been with Sunrise Chiropractic Group ever since.
Through WWVA, Sunrise Chiropractic donates an average of 60 visits each month to veterans.
WWVA is not a nonprofit organization, therefore it does not accept monetary donations. It's completely service based.
Hatch would like to add more healthcare practitioners, such as surgeons, dentists and pain management specialists.
"I understand you (practitioners) may have to put a limit on how many veterans you can help," Hatch said. "But if you can only help two veterans a month, then help them all the way."
In other words, take it beyond a free consultation followed by presenting the veteran with an expensive treatment plan.
"Doctors might say 'what do I get out of it?' Well, I'll tell you," Hatch said. "You meet some amazing people and it just feels good. You make a lot of lifelong friendships."