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Introducing EFT to Military and Veteran Communities

Dear EFT Community,

In this article, Terry Sparks, staff chaplain at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, gives practical and effective approaches for introducing EFT to veterans and military personnel. In addition to her work as chaplain, Terry chairs the Government EFT Practitioners Association (GEPA). Join the GEPA discussion group.

-EFT Universe

By Terry Sparks, JD, MDiv, CHTP/I, EFT-INT

There are a few clinicians in the U.S. Veterans Affairs medical system and in the U.S. military who use EFT in their work. EFT is not yet a recognized treatment modality within these systems, however. As a result, most U.S. military personnel and veterans cannot access EFT through official treatment channels.

It is to be hoped that the research that Dawson Church, the Veterans Stress Project, and many others have done will help that change soon. But while we in the United States wait for EFT to be recognized as an approved modality, there are ways we can introduce it to active-duty military, military family groups, and veterans groups. I am going to address structures in the United States, but these ideas may be adaptable to military and veterans structures in other countries as well.

U.S. military units usually have a support structure for families, whether that unit is an active-duty unit, a reserve unit, or a National Guard unit. Locate the family resource personnel for the unit and talk to them about the benefits of EFT for their service members and families. Although finding the correct person to talk with about this can be daunting, many military units now have a Web page with contact information listed for support personnel.

Or you can take a low-tech approach and look in the phone book for a contact number for a unit. Probably the best approach is to find a service member or family member who is part of that unit, talk with that person about EFT, and ask that person to give you an introduction to his or her family resource personnel.

U.S. military units that have recently deployed, left their base for an overseas mission, often have “Yellow Ribbon” events for service members and their families when they return. These events generally run for one to two days, with a program of speakers and a room of “resources.” Various groups and institutions set up a table with information for the participants.

EFT practitioners can ask permission from a unit’s family resource personnel to set up an EFT table at a Yellow Ribbon event. Be prepared with a handout listing EFT practitioners in the area who will work with service members and their families at no charge. Do short EFT sessions with whoever will allow you to work with them at the event. It is possible that you can get a room or more private area for working with individuals. This is a good way to let the military community know about EFT and that EFT practitioners are available to them.

There are many veterans groups in the United States, among them the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. There also are family groups connected with veterans, such as American Gold Star Mothers (mothers who have lost a child in military service) and the American Legion Auxiliary. Some religious groups have a ministry to military and veterans’ families. One of these groups might be willing to let you do a workshop on EFT, or might be looking for a speaker for a meeting. Look around your community and see who is there.

If this isn’t a culture that is familiar to you, talk to some service members and their families before embarking on an EFT project with this group. Get to know their community and their concerns.

Think of it as learning a new culture, and treat this culture with great respect.

If you are not a veteran or from a military family, you can learn a lot from this group of people. In exchange, you can offer EFT. When you approach this group with a heart willing to learn, and do this as a service project rather than as a way to grow your practice, it can yield great rewards for everyone.