GI Bill® with Vocational Rehab: A conversation with OCOM’s Registrar/Veterans' benefit coordinator

In August, lawmakers passed a major expansion to the education benefits for U.S. military veterans. This bill eliminates the 15-year time limit on the use of education benefits for new recruits among other changes that expand veteran access. How do these changes affect someone considering a career in acupuncture? The OCOM Admissions team sat down with the college’s Registrar, Carol Acheson, to learn more.

I have a prospective student who has just retired from the Army and now has the GI Bill with Voc Rehab. She has her undergraduate degree from about 20 years ago under the former GI Bill and would like to know more about the process should she be admitted to OCOM with the Voc Rehab aid.

She will need to go to her Voc Rehab representative and start the paperwork with them, the Veterans Administration. Once she has her paperwork completed and accepted by Voc Rehab, the rep sends me authorization to bill them. I then create a VA file for her and sign her up with the Veterans Administration. Once, the government site for reporting her credits each term.

So, to clarify the steps that a prospective student needs to take...

  1. See their VA rep and obtain requisite paperwork and qualifications to receive Voc Rehab.
  2. When the prospective student receive this authorization, they send their paperwork to you (the Registrar).
  3. Meanwhile, they can still apply to OCOM and, if admitted and their Voc Rehab qualifies, then OCOM/you will bill Voc Rehab VA for tuition and any other accompanying expenses for their education at OCOM?

That's correct.

Do you know how many OCOM students are currently utilizing the GI Bill?

We have six current VA students; five are master’s students and one is a doctoral student. Out of the six, two of them will be graduating at the end of August.

Is there anything that our current OCOM students, who are using VA benefits, need to remember to do to continue their benefits?

I don't think there is anything the VA students need to remember for their benefits. Student[s] should remember that there is an educational tuition cap each school year and if OCOM tuition rises above that amount, then students have to pay the difference of what the VA does not cover. This usually happens in the summer as the VA considers August 1 as the start of the school year.

For more information about the OCOM’s VA process, visit or contact Carol Acheson, Office of the Registrar, at 503-253-3443 x112

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at


Two recent articles by OCOM faculty members have recently been published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM)

Super-Users at an Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Teaching Clinic: Demographics and Unique Clinical Characteristics” (March 2017) by Forrest Cooper, DAOM; Ben Marx, MAcOM; Tamsin Lee, MAcOM; and Deb Espesete, MAcOM, MPH, is a retrospective chart review of OCOM patients with 100+ visits treated between 2002 and 2012. Their study found that “super-users” tend to be older, report lower income, and exhibit greater visit frequency than more typical acupuncture and Chinese medicine users. The data suggests that the factors motivating super-user behavior may be different from those in other medical domains, notably emergency medicine, and likely includes long-term management of chronic pain and other chronic conditions. The findings warrant future studies into long-term health outcomes of super-users, and the economic impacts of an integrative health care system which included acupuncture and Chinese medicine for older low-income individuals.  

The second article, "Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Integrative Oncology: A Survey of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Practitioners," (June 2017) written by Zhaoxue Lu, MEd (China), PhD; Jen Moody, MAcOM; Ben Marx, MAcOM; and Tracy Hammerstrom, MAcOM, presents data from a 2014 survey of licensed acupuncturists in the United States treating chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) at Integrative Oncology centers. The survey presents data on real-world treatment patterns for CIPN, including common point combinations, visit characteristics and practitioner-reported outcomes. The study contributes to the evidence on the use of acupuncture to address unmet needs of CIPN patients, and the development of best practice guidelines for the treatment of CIPN with acupuncture in integrative oncology settings.

The articles were written in collaboration with the OCOM Research Department, and highlight the unique contributions OCOM is making to the acupuncture and Chinese medicine research community.

The 2017 Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR) conference, co-sponsored by the Department of Anesthesia at Stanford University, held its international conference in San Francisco on April 27-29, 2017. This year’s topic, “Advancing the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) through Acupuncture Research,” focused on the benefits of research in acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine within the emerging field of PMI to explore the variability and responders/non-responders in acupuncture studies. The biennial conference included multiple plenary lectures from leading international researchers highlighting the role of precision medicine in acupuncture research. In addition to original research presentations, pre-conference workshops explored a variety of engaging topics discussing the future of acupuncture research.  

A few highlights from the 2017 SAR conference:

  1. A preconference workshop, “Successes and Challenges of International Collaborations in Acupuncture Research,” presented by Elisabeth Stener-Victorin, PhD, Claudia Witt, MD MPH and Lixing Lao, PhD discussed their personal experiences in the cooperative partnership of conducting an international acupuncture research study in China and Germany.  The challenges such as language and social barriers became an opportunity to offer different, yet insightful, perspectives while designing a study.  
  2. Jiang-Ti Kong, MD, Helene Langevin, MD LAc, Jennifer A.M. Stone, MSOM LAc, Ming-Chih Kao MD, PhD presented “High-tech/Low-tech: Instruments for Objective and Subjective Research Applications for Acupuncture,” discussing a range of objective and subjective measurements for acupuncture research including heart rate variability, connective tissue, and an electronic data collection program designed at Stanford University.
  3. A symposia panel by Sheila A. Boudreau, PhD, Florian Beissner, PhD and Younbyyoung Chae, KMD PhD presented “Electronic Symptom Drawings: A New Tool for Mapping and Quantitative Assessments of Bodily Complaints,” which supported personalized medicine by mathematically quantifying patient illustrations of their pain symptoms and more accurately assess treatment progress.  
  4. Sean Mackey, MD PhD, Ben Kligler, MD, MPH and Hugh MacPherson, Phd LAc discussed the importance of research in “Clinical/Policy Research on the Role of Acupuncture in Mainstream Medicine” to further expand the role of acupuncture in integrative medicine and health care policy.
  5. “The Power of Research in Healthcare Policy: Lessons from Oregon and Vermont” presented by Robert Davis, MS LAc and Laura Ocker, MAcOM, LAc (an OCOM alum and past president of the Oregon Association of AOM) presented their experiences in utilizing acupuncture research to support health care policy changes and extend acupuncture insurance coverage in both states.  

Three original research projects were presented by OCOM affiliates at this year’s conference:  Interim director of OCOM’s Research Department, Ben Marx, MAcOM, LAc, presented his research on seven years of patient outcomes data from the OCOM intern clinic. Lee Hullender Rubin, DAOM, LAc, an adjunct faculty member, presented her research on acupuncture augmentation of lidocaine for provoked, localized vulvodynia, and Tamsin Lee, MAcOM, LAc, an OCOM research assistant and DAOM candidate, presented a retrospective case series on the effectiveness of acupuncture on Herpes Zoster.

OCOM master’s students, Sara Snyder, Whitney Tuxbury, Dusty Bodeen and doctorate students, Amy Chang, and Tamsin Lee, received scholarships from SAR to attend this year’s conference. “It was wonderful,” said Tuxbury, “to see acupuncture at work in our health care systems outside of the classroom setting, and a great chance to meet other students and professionals from around the U.S. and world.” Also supporting OCOM’s presence was DAOM student, Jessica Dahlton, and OCOM professor, Dr. Chico Livingston.  

Central to the practice of acupuncture and Chinese medicine is individualized treatment, and this conference highlighted the important contributions the field provides to the emerging Precision Medicine Initiative in biomedicine. For more information, visit, and save the date for the 2019 SAR conference on the East coast.

On April 8, more than 160 supporters filled Oregon College of Oriental Medicine’s KPC Community Room for the college’s annual Cherry Blossom Gala. The event raised an all-time high of $112,280 to promote OCOM’s top-ranked academic programs and to expand access to integrative health care.

As the evening began, President and Chief Executive Officer, Deborah Howe, PhD, FAICP, expressed her admiration for OCOM’s students, noting they “come to OCOM because they know that Chinese medicine is effective and they want to become healers… they are willing to work extraordinarily hard for their education and — more importantly — their future patients and the medicine.”

Master’s program student and clinic intern, Travis Kern, shared an inspiring story about his life-changing work with a patient who receives regular acupuncture treatments to help overcome the physical and emotional impact of limited mobility after suffering from a severe stroke. “She relies on our clinics, our knowledgeable interns, and our accessible services to stay in control and to remain connected to her health and healing journey. Chinese medicine is an essential component in helping people live more satisfying lives, an essential component to adding good health into all of our mantras.”

Attendees included OCOM co-founder, Eric Stevens, DAOM, LAc, and three of the 34-year-old college’s first supervisors: Robert Kaneko, DAOM, LAc; Joseph Colleto, ND, LAc; and Janet LaRosa, DOM, LAc. Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette was also an honored guest.

Also attending were several of OCOM’s renowned faculty leaders, staff, alumni, students, and community supporters. The evening’s program was led by emcee and Chief Development Officer, Dave Eshbaugh, and auctioneer, Heidi Hill, who encouraged donors to give at personally significant levels.

OCOM’s trustees, Dea-Anne D’Amico, MA; Lea Anne Doolittle, MBA; Charles R. Elder, MD, MPH, FACP; Michell M. Hay; Gene G. Hong, MD; Dustin R. Klinger, JD; Brad J. Malsin, MD; Juliet T. Moran; Karen M. Williams, JD; and Leah R. Yamaguchi, LAc celebrate the success of the gala and thank all who contributed.
Photos from the event are available for viewing on OCOM’s official Facebook page: /OCOMPDX.

For more information, contact: Vice President of Communications, Beth Howlett, MAcOM, LAc, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 503-253-3443 x196

Download the press release (PDF)


 Michell Hay, Board Treasurer; Steve Sebers; and Dawn-Starr Crowther

Sarah Hammer; Leah Yamaguchi, Board Member and Gala Chair; and Courtney Prince

Karen Williams, Board Chair; Audrey DeMott

Kathy Calgano; Kenny Roders; Penny Stephenson; and Liz Malsin

On January 28, 2017, Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods Integrative Medicine Scholarship finalist and Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) student, Diego Garcia, took home the top prize among all the student representatives. The panel, composed of other finalists from OHSU, University of Western States, National University of Natural Medicine, and Pacific University, engaged in a discussion of topics in holistic nutrition, themed “Food as Medicine.” The panel and scholarship contest are part of the annual Student Alliance for Integrative Medicine (SAIM) event celebrating Integrative Medicine Day. The conference at the OHSU Collaborative Life Sciences building also featured expert panel discussions on integrative approaches to physical performance and managing chronic illness in pediatric patients.

In reflecting on the process of selecting a finalist, OCOM’s SAIM representative Mallory Harman remembers: “We were so impressed with Diego’s story, his passion for the medicine, his ability to articulate his ideas, and his firm and confident ability to speak on the spot.” Garcia said of his winning video and panel performance, “I’m really excited to represent OCOM and to do my best to keep our school at the forefront of natural medicine.” Congratulations to Diego and all the contest finalists!

Diego Garcia - Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
Derich Hartfeil - National University of Natural Medicine
Arthur Knepper - Oregon Health and Science University
Natasha Smith - University of Western States
Jeff Szabo - Pacific University

Watch OCOM’s contest entries streaming online:

2017 winner Diego Garcia’s video on whole grain pancake and waffle mix:

All the OCOM 2017 contest submissions: by Leah Friend by Beth Randles by Elizabeth Marr by Dixie Small

2015 and 2016 winner Travis Kern’s videos on kamut and teff:

2012 winner Eliot Sitt’s video on spelt:

Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) received a $5,000 grant award from the Juan Young Trust supporting access to acupuncture and Chinese medicine for children and young adults.

Thanks to the Trust's support, OCOM is able to provide qualifying community members aged 21 years and younger with up to 10 free treatments. Enrollment in this special youth-focused program begins January 3, 2017 and is designed to reduce barriers to receiving an optimal course of treatment. OCOM’s affordable sliding scale fees of $25-$35 continue to apply for all patients of any age in need of access to care.

“This generous grant provides OCOM with an excellent opportunity to provide care for children and young adults and gives our students exposure and experience with pediatric care and young adult care,” says Brooke Alsaker, OCOM Director of Clinical Operations. Analysis of OCOM clinic data revealed that only two percent of current intern patients are under 21, while our alumni report serving 5-20 percent in their professional practices. This award from Juan Young Trust will provide youth with access to care while also increasing meaningful clinical training opportunities for OCOM students.

OCOM is a 33-year-old nonprofit graduate institution that operates two Portland-area teaching clinics: one in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood and another in the Hollywood neighborhood of northeast Portland. OCOM’s Chinese medicine teaching clinics serve approximately 3,000 patients each year. As a member of the Coalition of Community Health Clinics, the college is committed to supplying a safety net of health care access for the underserved.

To enroll in the program, call OCOM’s Patient Services Team at 503-445-0950.


For more information regarding OCOM partnership and sponsorship opportunities, contact Mike Paulsen, Director of Annual Giving
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-253-3443 x204.

Save the date for
OCOM's Virtual 9th Annual Cherry Blossom Gala

Thursday, April 29, 2021

 To RSVP and get sponsorship information, click here

Together we can transform health care!