A free service for soldiers disappears…

I just received the email below from Chris Hagey. Chris has started www.probonoforsoldiers.com to offer free holistic services to returning service members and their families. It was a project that was created with much idealism, and other practitioners signed up to help. However, after two years, she is now closing the website, as the response from soldiers and their families has been rather minimal. Most of  us healing practitioners are struggling with reaching out effectively. Here are some thoughts that came through my experience of  introducing hundreds of soldiers to EFT.

As I have discussed in this blog and other locations many times, working with EFT for Veterans, reaching out and creating rapport is one of  the most challenging things when it comes to working with EFT and Vets.

We have to understand that soldiers have a different understanding of  service and self sacrifice than most nonmilitary people. At a post deployment event, a service member explained to me that for him to ask for help is embarrassing and feels inappropriate. He shared that he would feel  very uncomfortable if people offered help. “I volunteered to serve!” he said. “I don’t want pity, I knew what I was doing!” As people who want to help returning service members, we need to find a way to present our intention to help in the context of  the a military mindset. Offering gratitude and honor, acknowledgment and respect is of  the essence. Understanding that most soldiers are very sensitive to people who just talk about gratitude, but then switch over to political subjects is very important, too.

When I join a new group of warriors, I always spend a moment making my “thank  you for your service” a personal message. I look people in the eyes and make sure they understand that this  is not just a phrase. I talk about honor, acknowledgment and respect. I make sure that it is understood that I don’t pretend to completely understand what they hae been through. I am not a service member, so this would be completely inappropriate. I also make sure that I don’t make assumptions about what someone has been through and don’t compare stories. Veterans don’t compare scars – instead they honor each other unconditionally.

It is hard to reach out to soldiers, but I know that we have to keep going and continue  our efforts as much as we can.  working with Veterans is a humbling and transformational process for both, the client and the practitioner, and I feel deeply grateful to have the opportunity to offer many servce members, veterans and their families.

Here is Chris’ email. Thank you Chris for all the great enthusiasm and work that you have been doing!

Hi All,

First I want to thank you for sharing your time and expertise with our soldiers/veterans – and I hope that you will continue on with this in your own ways.    If you are working with soldiers or vets that came to you via  PBFS, that is fabulous and I hope that if you have the time and they wish to work with you that you will continue.

I have held the Pro Bono For Soldiers doorway open for two years.  Although this was / is  a great concept, what I am finding is that the website  is not reaching out to the vets and soldiers as we had hoped.      It is simply not connecting to them the way we wanted.

I am not sure if this is because of the content of the website itself, if it is the name of the site or if it is merely that our soldiers are not ready to ask for aid in this way.    It may also well be that they are not as ready to place holistic methods into their healing protocol just yet.

Perhaps it is a bit of all these.

Based on my research however I have made the decision to fold this website.  What I envision is coming back at a later date when there is a better way to connect with our soldiers and vets.    I am not sure what that would entail as yet.

If you have placed the PBFS logo on your website, you will want to remove this soon.   I know that we each will continue in our own ways to help our vets and soldiers…

Thank you sincerely and wishing you many blessings,

Chris Hagey

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7 Responses to “A free service for soldiers disappears…”

  1. Therese Myers at

    I am the mother of a 25yr old Veteran suffering from PTSD. I had tried 2 years ago for him to connect with Chris. I have recently ran across her article again and asked if she was still offering her services. My son, as posts have stated, cannot bring himself to ask for help. Finally, I convinced him to visit the VA in Battle Creek to consider their inpatient program since he doesn\’t seem to be able to keep weekly or monthly appts dealing with his issues. After 2 years of being stuck, he is excited about the VA program and said he would check out Chris\’s services. I agree, that it would be best to let the local VA programs know about the services that you wish to offer. Definately, Vet referrals would help as well. The Ann Arbor VA is starting a new program called VET to VET in hopes that this type of interaction will be more beneficial for recovering soldiers. My son has said that most of his treatment has been ineffective due to the fact that those doing the treatment don\’t get it. The Battle Creek inpatient program has staff that has seen combat and we are hoping that makes a difference. Thank you for offering your gifts to those who served. As a parent, I can see the suffering and wish I could be more effective in helping my soldier to seek help. gratefully, Therese, Proud Military Mom

  2. Jerry,
    thank you for your comment. It is an honor to have you on this site.

    I am so grateful to hear how much you are implementing EFT into the PTSD training at Fort Hood. You are doing such amazing work.
    Different tools work for different people, and it is wonderful to see how open the therapists now are to alternative treatment plans.
    I’d love to learn more about your work.
    Please let me know if there is any way that I can support you.

    Yes, I found that Operation Emotional Freedom is very triggering for Veterans, and prefer the short, 20 minute version for demonstrations. I showed this shore video at a number of yellow ribbon events this year, and it was just enough for most to get the idea of what EFT can do.
    I have heard from different people that veterans suffered severe flashbacks while watching the film, and those who know EFT reported that they were tapping the whole time. They reported that they would have had to turn it of if they didn’t know how to tap. A great testimonial for the effectiveness of EFT. But I worry about those who don’t have these tapping skills yet.
    I heard that “Operation: Emotional Freedom” was created for therapists and EFT practitioners, not for Veterans, but in this specific case, I don’t think that we can really direct who watches it: So many therapists and counselors are former soldiers and suffer from PTSD as well. Since with this population, it is impossible to say who is in the audience (even in the military parent support groups that I talk at are so many Veterans, ) I have decided to take the safe route and stay away from group showings of “Operation: Emotional Freedom” or group tapping with Borrowing Benefits, unless people are solid in tapping (the way our vets were in San Francisco)

    Thank you and Happy Holidays!

  3. Jerry Wesch at

    We use EFT every day at the PTSD clinic at Fort Hood. Works fine but is a hard sell initially. We teach it as a \"self-care\" technique but also use it clinically in 1:1 sessions. We use the \"Operation Emotional Freedom\" DVD as a starter, although it \"triggers\" lots of the soldiers.. Wouldn\’t want to do this without it. We use talk, exposure, groups, relaxation training, massage, biofeedback, cranial electrical stimulation and lots of other tools.

  4. Geneviève at

    convince my husband to do eft took me 7 months. I had to be very diplomatic and creative not to be pushy and not to scare him away from this. He is doing eft now but even now he has never spoke about it to his PTSD friends, because he feels like they would not welcome this technique. But the only way that his friends could eventually be open to this technique would be through my husband. They would never consider this if it came from anyone else. So , my suggestion for the futur when you offer this service again, would be to have veterans themselves contact other veterans, speaking to veterans meetings about their eft experience. Veterans will only listen to other veterans. it’s my suggestion. Peace. Geneviève

  5. shirl at

    There is a SW in Bedford VA teaching an EFT class this summer for VA employees. Sorry, I don’t remember her name.

    I use basic EFT with my VA stress management class and am searching for further training.

  6. Hi Sharon,
    I’d be glad to talk with you! EFT4Vets continues to work and help many veterans. Much is moving forward now, as we are working on helping those who help Veterans with EFT. Please feel free to email me and we can talk! Looking forward to it!
    Ingrid ingrid@eft4vets.com

  7. Chris, Do you know of anyone who is currently using EFT for PTSD in any VA Hospital? I am passingly familiar with the work Gary Craig did in a VA Hospital setting, but am looking for someone who might be using this technique currently. I did just find out about your work and am sorry to see it end, but I am convinced that there is a future (and perhaps a federally funded future) for EFT for veterans.

    Sharon Smith