2014

Specialized Distinction Instituted To Become Designated EAGALA Military Services Provider Vigorous Training Mandated For EAGALA Military Services Providers Offering Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to Veterans, Active Duty, and Their Families Struggling With PTSD, Suicide, Addiction, Depression, Resiliency, Grief And Combat Stress

SANTAQUIN, Utah, June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In order to ensure the highest quality treatment for our active military, reserves, veterans,  and their families challenged with PTSD, TBI, re-integration, addiction, suicidal tendencies, resiliency and other mental and behavioral challenges, EAGALA Military Services www.eagala.org/military, a division of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association www.eagala.org has instituted a strict protocol for practitioners intending to provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) or Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) services to this population.  An official designation -- EAGALA Military Services Provider -- has been created  to support this initiative.  Distinguished, vetted programs will receive referrals to do this important and sensitive work, it was announced today by Lynn Thomas, Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit.   With suicide rates that outpaced combat deaths in 2012 according to the Department of Defense (DOD), the need for certified practitioners with specialized training and experience in military culture and community is critical.   EAGALA Military Services, created to streamline hundreds of equine assisted programs across the country, will oversee the assignment of the Provider designation as the task force focuses on  research, community education, government relations, member training and program development.

Through November of last year, 177 active duty soldiers had committed suicide compared to 165 in 2011 and 156 in 2010.  During all of 2012, 176 soldiers were killed in action during their deployment for Operation Enduring Freedom.  In addition, the VA's National Center for PTSD stated that occurrence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be as high as 20% in veterans of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom (New Dawn) and 30% of Vietnam Veterans.  And enlisted female soldiers and Marines continue to experience the highest rate of divorce, 9.4% and 9.3%, respectively. Most recently, according to a Pentagon report, the number of sexual assaults reported by members of the military rose 6 percent to 3,374 in 2012 and troubling new numbers estimate that up to 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year.

"As agencies have increased efforts to invest in prevention, early intervention and effective treatment of mental health issues challenging our service members, EAGALA has also recognized the responsibility to support those efforts and to ensure that we hold those working in this area to the highest of professional standards and accountability. We are instituting the EAGALA Military Services Provider designation to facilitate replication of  the Model and ensure a credible referral source for every community," stated Thomas.

The criteria for becoming an EAGALA Military Services Provider are the following:

  • Both Certified Equine Specialist(ES) and Licensed Mental Health Professional(MH) must have completed a minimum of 60 hours of training specific to military culture and issues within the last five years, 10 hours of which completed within the last two.  Options acceptable for requirement comprise active duty service, direct interaction service to military community though organizations such as the DCOE, VA, and USO, enrollment in educational programs or audio workshops including the Center For Deployment Psychology www.deploymentpsych.org/, Care For the Troops www.careforthetroops.org/, among others;
  • Both must enroll in six hours/year continuing education relevant to military issues and lifestyle;
  • MH must have worked at least 150 hours with the military, 40 of which were clinical;
  • MH must  secure a letter of recommendation from military personnel who was directly involved in the supervision of the clinical work conducted;
  • See link for additional information www.eagala.org/military

These criteria are in addition to that which must be satisfied to become Certified in the EAGALA Model.

EAGALA met with key ranking officers from the Behavioral Division of the Army of the Surgeon General, the office of the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army MEDCOM Warrior Transition Command, The Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Human Performance Resource Center to demonstrate EAP. Unlike therapeutic riding, EAGALA Model EAP utilizes ground-based activities where the horses serve as metaphors, such as representing relationships with family or unit members, fears, strengths or aspects of self.

"The EAGALA Model uses the horse to gain insight into behaviors and perceptions. The horse's reactions provide unbiased and real time feedback, breaking through the barriers that many military members experience in conversations with others who cannot begin to understand what we feel because we made it back.  EAP provides a strategy for dealing with trauma in a way that makes sense to military service members," stated Jimmy L. Walters, COL, USA (Ret).

"We have conducted a number of EAGALA EAP sessions focusing on coping resources, resilience and anger management.  Across the board, veteran participants have said never have they found a group or individual session so life-changing, and that they have found hope. After the workshops, many reflect frequently on the experience and skills learned then take them into their daily lives," said Susan T. Lisi, AFGE Local 3306 Chief Steward, VA Medical Center in Canandaigua, New York.

"My group members are sleeping better, getting along with family members better, their depression has decreased, their communication skills have improved and their will to live has become stronger," stated Joy Williams, LCSW, Oxnard Family Circle, VA Wellness Program.

"Working with EAGALA was a profoundly moving experience for me. I gained insight and wisdom that I did not think was possible. Any service member who has an opportunity should try it," said Luke Leonard, OIF Veteran.

"After just two sessions with the EAGALA program, a flood gate opened and I began to understand and write down  the reasons behind my pent up, debilitating fears. For the first time in over 25 years I was able to sleep almost through the night and experienced a change from war nightmares to dreams processing older traumas. I can't say that I am free and clear of everything, because every day is still a challenge, but it is a preferred path for the journey I am on," stated Chante Wolf, U.S. Air Force 1980-92 Desert Shield / Storm 199.

"Each time I'm with the horses, they show me another part of myself and the past's grip loosens up a little more. They are helping me see how I fit into the world and I am beginning to understand and accept who I really am. At times, I even like what I see," shared Judith C. VanVoorhis, LTC, US Army, retired.

Why EAGALA?

EAGALA is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization developed in 1999 to address the need for resources, education and professionalism in the fields of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning.  The association has set the standard for professional excellence in how horses and humans work together to improve the quality of life and mental health of individuals, families and groups worldwide. In partnership with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), EAGALA provides an opportunity for a second career for horses retired from racing. EAGALA has more than 3,700 members in 41 countries.  For more information on EAGALA Military Services, go to http://eagala.org/military

CONTACT: Hayley Sumner, EAGALA Certified, hayley@eagala.org, 310-488-9777

SOURCE Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA)



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