Most missions begin with a challenge, a recovery, and the reframing of tragedy through its story. This is our story.
Listen to our story as Veterans In Pain Founder, Micaela Bensko, shares the very raw and personal origin behind Veterans In Pain, its evolution, and long term initiatives to empower Veterans suffering intractable chronic pain through increased access to Interventional & Alternative medical solutions.
Our mission at Veterans In Pain is personal.
With Founder, Micaela Bensko’s, extensive lineage of Veterans back to the Civil War, the impetus for supporting Veterans in need is quite literally, in her blood.
However, it wasn’t until her position as Vice President of her mother's nonprofit, Rebuilding America’s Warriors (RAW) in 2006 - providing free reconstructive surgery for troops returning from war - that Bensko became profoundly aware of the ongoing issues plaguing wounded Veterans once home.
Empathy is one thing, true understanding is another.
After 5 years working closely with RAW Veterans, the tables turned. In 2011, Bensko suffered an accident, a wheelchair, over 20 spine surgeries & procedures, and six years 80-90% bed-bound. Her diagnostic journey mirrored that of many suffering the enigma that is chronic pain. Finally, after seeing over a dozen physicians in the hope of an answer as to why she endured increasing levels of unfathomable pain, she received, through Dr. Joshua Prager, a world-renowned expert in the field of chronic pain, the diagnoses of two of the most devastating centralized autoimmune chronic pain diseases of the nervous system known to our medical community, today - 'Arachnoiditis complicated by CRPS of the spine' . Placing any pressure on her tailbone incited labor-type contractions within her lumbar spine every 10-15 minutes around the clock, she had lost the use of both legs and 70% of her right arm. Each condition has been officially coined by the medical community as a 'suicide disease', considered incurable, progressive in nature, and limited in response to treatments.
Bensko is a wife with four children, but she was 'done'. "How could one human being physically withstand these levels of pain". She later learned that each condition is medically designated on the McGill Pain Scale of 1 to 10, as 1,000.
Upon sharing her diagnoses and symptoms with Veterans who now offered support to her, she quickly discovered the similarities their conditions shared seemingly the result of injuries to or surgeries of the spine.
After a friend with Arachnoiditis underwent a successful Interventional procedure which allowed her to regain her quality of life, Bensko was 'in'. With a family friend donating the funds for the procedure, Bensko underwent the same protocol on June 28, 2017.
"Within 24 hours, the contractions in my spine were gone. Completely gone. I was able to go back to Physical Therapy and learn to walk again. In the house at least. Without question, that one procedure, with a lot of hard work on my part, increased my quality of life by at least 75%. I couldn't help but think how incredible this was, but so expensive and inaccessible to the Veterans who sacrificed so much, even their own quality of life, in service to our country. How unfair it was."
By spring, 2018, Veterans In Pain V.I.P. was born. "I basically took what we did with RAW, except with nonsurgical alternative pain solutions, and conducted a slow and steady grassroots recruitment of highly-specialized physicians in the field of Interventional and Alternative medicine, who wanted to give back by volunteering their services to Veterans in need".
As of 2021, Veterans In Pain has facilitated over one millions dollars in value of services across the country and in Canada.
With V.I.P.'s ability to facilitate such procedures for qualifying Veterans at a vastly diminished discount, hard costs still remain which are the burden of our Veterans without the funding our program requires to cover treatment expenses such as operating room fees, anesthesiology, product, collection kits, as well as travel & accommodations when necessary.
V.I.P. also operates a Research Division with active IRB-Certified Studies, Veteran Support Retreats, Veteran and Physician Outreach Efforts, and their long term initiative - The Interventional Therapies for Veterans Act - Government funding of Interventional and Alternative therapeutic solutions for Veterans suffering intractable chronic pain.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about V.I.P. and how we started, so together we might continue to pay forward the quality of life our country's heroes so greatly deserve.
Veterans In Pain V.I.P. - is:
• A GuideStar Platinum-Rated Nonprofit
• A Certified-Resource of Wounded Warrior Project
• Endorsed by the Interventional OrthoBiologic Foundation IOF & American Academy/Assoc of Orthopedic Medicine AAOM
* A Certified Resource of the DOD-sanctioned National Resource Directory