By Scott Blech, CAE
Executive Director, EMDRIA
With one in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffering from PTSD or major depression according to a Rand Corporation study., Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is naturally an issue in the forefront of the minds of our mental health professionals, especially those that treat veterans or military personnel. However, practitioners wishing to treat these clients with EMDR may face difficult and unnecessary hurdles.
At this point, it is clear that EMDR treatment has been rendered difficult, if not impossible, for most veterans and their families to receive. For example, the Defense Centers of Excellence and the Veterans Administration issued a large contract for training only in Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy. As many of you already know, TRICARE insurance refuses to pay for EMDR therapy despite EMDR having an “A” rating in the published guidelines of the Department of Defense/Veterans Administration. The recently published guidelines of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies also gave EMDR a level “A” rating for treating PTSD in adults.
At a time when the demand for mental health treatment of the military and veterans is great and growing, it makes no sense to limit the menu of proven treatments for PTSD. It is outrageous that TRICARE and senior military officials are not recognizing EMDR as one of the most effective treatments for PTSD.
Here’s how you can help. The EMDRIA Board Military Task Group has prepared a sample letterthat anyone wishing to contact their Congressional Representatives may use, either in its entirety, or as the basis of your letter. Please include personal stories and experiences in your letter – these will make it more personal and powerful. EMDRIA has also prepared a paper, “Providing EMDR Mental Health Services for the Military” that you can send with your letter to further inform your Congressman.