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Acupuncturists serving the troops

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May 4, 2008

Margaret Gargarian respects the fact that her son's high school in Belmont has a community service requirement. "I think it should be part of life," she said.

To do her part, Gargarian - an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who has training in acupuncture - recently joined an offshoot of Acupuncturists Without Borders.

Gargarian and licensed acupuncturists Margaret Ryding, Bill Kellar, and Patricia Burkhart, all of Arlington, offer free, weekly acupuncture treatments for US military personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gargarian said she believes alternative therapies are valuable because they offer another tool to cure or manage health problems.

Benefits of acupuncture, she said, may include reduced anxiety and irritability; improved sleep, energy, and mental clarity; and the alleviation of flashbacks and nightmares.

Although a client may feel a "quick pinch" as the thin acupuncture needles are inserted, Gargarian said the treatment is relaxing. Sessions typical last a half hour.

"Every time we treat someone," she said, "it makes us feel good, too."

The free acupuncture clinics are offered on Mondays, 6:30 to 8 p.m., in two Arlington locations.

On May 12 and June 9, sessions take place at the American Legion Hall, 370 Massachusetts Ave. On all other Mondays, sessions are provided in the Jefferson Cutter House (rear entrance at ground level) at the corner of Mystic Street and Massachusetts Avenue. No appointment is necessary. For more information, call 617-849-4928.

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