Since initiating the Reiki volunteer program at the Kerrville VA Medical Center two years ago, it is my privilege to facilitate weekly visits to share this integrative therapy with resident Veterans there. Last summer a newly formed committee at the VA Medical Center invited me to be a volunteer member. Three staff psychologists, a staff social worker, the VA Administrative Officer, and another volunteer – a retired Marine Colonel – welcomed me to the committee.
Our ongoing task is to organize, present, and facilitate a quarterly series of mental health programs at the Kerrville VA Medical Center. Our goal is to partner with local community groups to increase collaboration between VA and community providers to improve mental health and wellness services to local Veterans and their families. We named this series Making Connections Reaching Veterans.
Each quarter we choose a different topic for the event, find a keynote speaker, and invite a Veteran to share the story of their experience of the topic. In addition to Q&A time, the opportunity to network among community partners follows the program to learn about issues relevant to serving Veterans and military families.
This quarter’s presentation, February 8, 2019, focused on mental health and chronic pain in Veterans. Treating chronic pain from a mental health provider’s perspective is a timely subject given the worldwide opioid epidemic. In the past, medication and surgery were the only options offered to Veterans for their chronic pain. This often led to a tragic downward spiral of addiction.
Today, the VA promotes its Whole Health program for a healing partnership approach that focuses on Veterans’ strengths and abilities to optimize their health and well-being. Through Whole Health the VA supports integrative health pain management with a variety of resources. These include Reiki as a complementary therapy that promotes relaxation of the body and the mind, making Reiki an effective tool for pain management.