Reiki Healing for the Military

Ellen Severino came to practice at the JCC Reiki Clinic in New York City one evening. When she mentioned she offers Reiki treatment to the military, I asked her to share her experience. Please share this widely to help more veterans consider Reiki practice to heal trauma and to inspire more Reiki practitioners to offer Reiki treatment to veterans.

By Ellen Severino

Reiki for veterans with PTSD, anxiety and insomnia

“It’s like my body doesn’t remember how to sleep.”

That’s what Michael, a soldier dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, said when he came for a Reiki treatment at the military base where I volunteer. Reiki treatment was new to Michael, but trauma and insomnia weren’t. He was willing to give Reiki a try.

Lying on his back on the treatment table, Michael seemed tense, his fingers clasped tightly across his abdomen. I placed my hands lightly on the crown of his head. A few minutes later, he exhaled loudly. Soon his breath began to slow and his hands moved to his sides. A few more minutes and he was snoring.

When the Reiki treatment ended, Michael sat up and said, “What just happened? I don’t remember the last time I felt this good!”

Since then Michael has come for more Reiki treatment and has referred several of his friends, all veterans who suffer from insomnia and other trauma symptoms. After Reiki treatment, all reported sleeping better and feeling less anxious.

Reiki practice eases veterans’ overwhelm

Laura, a Navy Veteran, came to see me because, as she put it, she had too much on her plate. She had heard the word Reiki, but was unfamiliar with the practice or its benefits.

A few minutes into our session, Laura’s face tensed and she bit her lower lip for a moment, then relaxed. When the treatment ended, I encouraged her to take her time getting up.

She lingered a minute then said, “ I wasn’t expecting that. I think I put something down that I have been carrying a long time.”

The next time I saw Laura, she told me how much better she felt, that something had definitely shifted. “I’m able to see things differently,” she said.

Reiki healing for military hospital staff

Carla is a nurse who works at a veterans hospital. She describes her hectic and demanding job as walking a tight rope. Since having regular Reiki treatments she says, “I sleep so nice…I sleep like a baby.”

When I became a Reiki practitioner, I was preoccupied with achieving the best possible results from my treatments. I wondered if my Reiki hands would measure up.

My time with the military community has helped me appreciate what Reiki practice is really about.

My job is to place my hands and remain present, not to be vested in a particular outcome. I have witnessed time and again that healing occurs in many ways, big and small, but is always a blessing. And that includes helping to provide a good night’s sleep.


How Does Reiki Help lays out the physiologic basis for the benefits veterans suffering from trauma experience with Reiki treatment.

Are you a Reiki practitioner who’d like to start a Reiki program in your local VA? In my Reiki and Medicine Intensive, I share invaluable information, perspective and strategies for interfacing with conventional medicine that are drawn from my 30+ years as a Reiki professional, content that is not available elsewhere.

The benefits the veterans experienced — being able to sleep, feeling less anxious and overwhelmed, the gentle shift in perspective — are actually simple, yet profound spiritual benefits. If you are confused about what spirituality is or how Reiki helps, the Mainstreaming Reiki: What Is Spirituality? audio recording will help.

Have you offered Reiki to veterans or anyone with PTSD? Please share your experience in the comment section.

Join my email list to get credible Reiki information right to your inbox. I value our relationship and your privacy and will never share your contacts.


31 thoughts on “Reiki Healing for the Military”

  1. I’m a Reiki Master in Suffolk, Uk and have in recent times been attracting clients with PTSD. Time and time again Reiki has shown to be an affective tool to aiding recovery.

    I would love to be able to offer some of my time voluntarily to helping veteran soldiers in the UK. All the websites I have found seemed to be about Reiki with American Vets; we are still it seems further behind in acceptance of Reiki here in the UK.

    Any advice on how to get involved over this side of the pond would be wonderful.

    Really admire all the work that is going on with Reiki for American vets.

    Reiki blessings.

    1. There’s lots of content here that can help. Look at all posts and trainings on Medical Reiki and Communicating Reiki. Getting into health care requires Reiki practitioners to be very credible, to understand the healthcare system, and to be excellent communicators. There are a ton of articles in the Communicating Reiki category of my blog.

      Be very careful not to list Reiki practice as a remedy for any specific medical condition. That’s not how it works and you could be censured. Good luck!

  2. For all of the wonderful practitioners out there looking to volunteer with Soldiers/Veterans. As a Combat Veteran, my advice is to bypass the VA completely. Create a Facebook page and share your message. Post on every military associated page you can find. We need you desperately. Let me know if you would like more suggestions. You can also contact Wounded Warrior Project and they can help spread the word.

  3. I have had the pleasure of working with several Veteran’s as well as their loved ones at the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center in Angel Fire, NM. It is amazing to see how receptive veterans are to energy, and it is amazing to see how much it helps. One experience I had was with a former Navy officer. He was injured in duty, and describes feeling pain constantly in his life. During the session he told me that all he wanted was to experience something besides pain, and that during our session, he doesn’t know what he was feeling, but for the first time he wasn’t experiencing pain in his body. I have not had a negative experience with Veterans. All seem to benefit from Reiki no matter what they’re dealing with. It helps to sleep better, to balance emotions and thoughts, and has even healed chronic conditions. I whole heartedly believe in Reiki for Veterans! Thank you to all practitioners who share this wonderful gift with people in need!

  4. Hi there,

    I love this article! I’m a Reiki master teacher in Groton CT and I have started a Reiki for Military program. It is so effective for treating stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD! My clients have expressed such improvement in their lives.

    I’m wondering if you have any advice for growing a program such as this, or advice how to connect with our local VA/NACC/etc?


    1. I applaud what you are wanting to do, and encourage you to keep at whatever outreach you have that is working. The military is a closed system and it’s a huge challenge for a civilian to gain entry unless you are invited (even when invited, there are challenges!).

      Two further suggestions:
      1. Read the Communicating Reiki articles on the blog (look in the sidebar for the categories), such as Reiki for Skeptics.
      2. If you feel you can do this without compromising the clinical relationship (which is always most important), try asking the military people you are serving to fill out a simple Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for anxiety and one for pain, pre and post session. You will likely find that they score low to begin with, as military culture does not report discomfort, which means that any improvement becomes more significant. However, it is also possible that the initial scores might be so low as to not allow room for improvement to be documented. Still, it might be worth a try. If you do, please let me know how it goes.

  5. Hi, I started a free Reiki clinic for veterans, in collaboration with our local free acupuncture clinic for veterans, organized by Acupuncturists Without Borders. Check out the link, and contact your local clinic manager. We’ve been going for nearly two years, with eight volunteers, each volunteering once per month, with two volunteers per week.

  6. Hi. I just tried to volunteer for the cause program at Ft. Hood. They said they have 4 practitioners already and 4 others in a waiting list. Plus they have massage therapists if they get in a pinch. She doesn’t see using me. That was very discouraging. My husband retired from the Army 2 years ago so I’m very familiar with it.

    I can’t believe they only need 4 practitioners with as large as Ft. Hood is. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I could start my own volunteer group to offer Reiki to the people at Ft. Hood? These men and women are very dear to my heart and I want to help. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks. 🙂

    1. I can appreciate that it is very discouraging to you, Kim, but please keep in mind that the good news is that there are any Reiki practitioners there at all.

      I doubt that you would be able to do anything on your own in Ft. Hood, but you could start a Reiki clinic outside of the Hood compound and find a way to get the word around to the community.

  7. I am a US Army Combat Veteran with 3 tours overseas. I also hold a Reiki III practioner certification and will be certified as a Reiki Master in February. I just started my work to serve Veterans with this amazing healing modality. Reiki has served me well with my PTSD, anxiety, nervousness, and re-activeness. I would like to collaborate and discuss better ways to bring this time honored practice to the forefront of how we treat our nation’s heroes. Any information and/ or communication would be appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Good to hear from you, Wylie, and thank you for your service.

      The first step to helping others with Reiki practice is to give oneself ample experience practicing daily hands-on self-treatment, especially before initiating and training others. Practitioners often rush into working with others without creating a solid foundation of continuing self-care first, unaware of the consequences. I wish you all the best

    2. Good afternoon,

      We hope this email finds you well!

      I’m currently producing a film called HEAL which looks at the science behind changing ones perceptions, thoughts in order to cure disease. The project is fully funded and production has started.

      We are looking for a veteran who has struggled physically after coming home and is open to enhancing their healing capabilities through shifts in perception and lifestyle. Your thoughts are welcomed in this very delicate matter of ones journey to heal, and if you know someone you think would be a great fit that would be fantastic as well. Thank you..

      WHO WE ARE: Elevative Entertainment ( is an independent production company with offices in Beverly Hills, CA. We are a team of dedicated filmmaking professionals with a passion for creative, consciousness-raising projects. We are currently producing ‘Heal’, a documentary that explores the power of the mind and the body’s ability to heal itself.

      HEAL: The film that takes us on a scientific and spiritual journey where we discover that by changing one’s perceptions and/or lifestyle, the human body can potentially heal itself from any dis-ease. The film interweaves insightful interviews from top experts (see below) with the real time journeys of people dealing with a chronic physical dibilitation or terminal illness.

      NOTE: While we, the filmmakers, support alternative and integrative therapies for healing, we also recognize the value (and sometimes necessity) of Western and conventional medicine. We feel that if someone is treating their dis-ease conventionally, there are also mindset and lifestyle shifts they can make which might enhance the healing response to these conventional therapies.

      EXPERTS: Deepak Chopra, Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Joan Borysenko, Dr. Bernie Seigel, and many more.

      If you or someone you know would be interested in being a part of the film and allowing us to follow part of their process, please let us know! (Ideally in the Los Angeles area)

      Looking forward to hearing back from you!

      Thanks so much,


      1. OMG, Thank you for taking the time to write this. You are Beautiful! I need this, it confirmed my intuition.

  8. We are lucky enough to volunteer for an organization called CAUSE. They managed to get all this approved. I think the USO may have some programs too. Maybe just google “volunteer reiki for soldiers” ??

    1. Tricia, I live within driving distance to Ft. Belvoir in NOVA. Is there any way I can get additional information on CAUSE and possibly participate in your monthly Reiki sessions on base? It would be my honor.
      Many thanks..mary b middleton

      1. mary b middleton


        Thank you so much for the contact info for CAUSE. I already checked it out at at Ft. Belvoir and am sending in my volunteer application. I practice Integrative Foot Reflexology in addition to massage and Reiki. I hope to attend the next session at Ft. Belvoir to introduce reflexology! I am so excited for the opportunity to work with the soldiers. I never met a soldier whose feet did not hurt!!
        Many thanks for sharing and caring Tricia… and Wylie you might check out their website as well..thank you Wylie for your service. And your continuing care for our troops.


  9. I am a volunteer at Ft. Belvoir iin alexandria va providing reiki treatments once a month. It is such an honor to be of value for these great men and women.
    We have seen significant reduction in stress, anxiety and for some pain reduction. Reports of calmness, sleeping better are frequent and some reduction in headaches are frequent.
    We now have our “regulars” and it is fantastic to see how they get benefit from Reiki.

    1. mary b. middleton

      Thank you for offering this information. Can you tell me how to present Reiki treatment to a military base? I volunteer at the USO there and have met many people in need…. My dearest friend in the world suffers terribly from PTSD but refuses help. I regularly treat him with foot reflexology and tried out my recent Reiki level 1 on him. He was very relaxed and suddenly came awake and said ‘the house is shaking’. I was so excited to be the messenger of the energy for him! I know Reiki works and I want to give back to our military. What is the best way to present this?
      Many thanks to all of you…..


      1. Mary, there are many resources to help you on my website and blog, both free and paid.

        Look particularly at the blogs related to communicating Reiki and the recorded webinar

        Any articles that address practicing Reiki in medical environments will be useful. But of course, the first thing is to practice daily self-Reiki.

      2. We have been asked to present Reiki as a hands on techniques to help balance the body, reduce stress, improve sleep and provide relaxation. I tell them their only job is to just relax on the table and I will do the work.
        At no time do we talk about energy flow and the like.

        So far each person new to reiki that I have worked with has easily accepted this description and there have been absolutely no problems for me.

        Not everyone benefits or likes it but as a whole I would say 95-98% appear to and we have many repeats.

      3. I have found that the best approach with soldiers is simplicity. I am not trying to explain something that cannot be explained. I let them know that science does not yet know how reiki works, but that it has been my experience that reiki treatment has a balancing and relaxing effect on our system, and that a relaxed mind and body give us a foundation for healing.

        In addition to that, I focus on describing the reiki treatment, i.e. the reiki hand positions, that the treatment is done fully clothed, that the recipient may fall asleep etc. I also share commonly reported benefits that I have received providing reiki treatment to the wounded soldiers since 2009: better sleep, peacefulness of mind, profound relaxation, better pain management.

        I do not see reiki as an energy, or reiki treatment as energy work. For me, reiki is the name of a healing practice. The reiki initiations and consistent reiki self-treatment give me the ability to apply relaxation/meditation to another person. All the healing that is taking place is receiver-driven and according to their own innate self-healing mechanism.

      4. mary b. middleton

        Thank you for your comments. And for those of you who work with soldiers on military bases, how do you get permission to volunteer/work there? What type of facility/space do you use on base? Do you go through VA or other agencies?
        Many thanks… mary

  10. I hope this request is appropriate for this forum. I am part of the palliative care team at a VA hospital. We would like to start a Reiki program there, so I would appreciate any information from other VA programs.

    And thank you Pamela, for all that you do.

    1. Anne Marie,

      One mistake that some VA hospitals are making is insisting that Reiki practitioners be Reiki masters in order to practice in the hospital. The military and medicine are both very credential-oriented, and don’t realize that Reiki credentials are meaningless in that they are not backed up by any agreed upon standards. For example, many Reiki masters have less training and experience than my First degree students.

      Requiring that Reiki practitioners be Reiki masters to offer treatment in hospitals puts pressure on Reiki practitioners to become “faster masters,” to get quick Reiki master training so they can qualify, even those who don’t feel called to be masters (traditionally, only teachers were Reiki masters).

      My 4-day Medical Reiki Intensive provides deep support, perspective and strategies for starting institutional programs. There is more information on this page If you cannot make it in-person, consider the Intro to Medical Reiki recorded webinar I also offer mentoring and consulting.

  11. I am coordinating a reiki program on a military installation. We offer reiki treatment to the wounded veterans and their families twice a month at the Warrior Transition Brigade. The response has been very positive, especially from soldiers with PTSD, TBI, and phantom pain, as well as from the care giving spouses and mothers. Following are some of the comments that we have been receiving after the reiki sessions:

    “I feel peaceful in my mind”, from a soldier with PTSD.

    “Comfort, I haven’t felt that in so long”, the first thing a soldier with multiple injuries said when he opened his eyes after the reiki treatment.

    “Relaxed so completely just by touch”, by the mother of an injured soldier.

    “Sleep usually does not come easy to me”, by a soldier with TBI and PTSD. He came in with a splitting headache. He fell asleep a few minutes into the reiki treatment and his pain went from a 4 to a 2.

    With regards to benefits lasting beyond the reiki treatment experience:

    “Every day when I wake up I continue to feel the peacefulness of the reiki treatment I received two weeks ago”, from a double amputee who came back for his second treatment.

    Our reiki program is based on Usui Reiki Level I. We simply follow the reiki hand positions and let the reiki treatment speak for itself. We do not address symptoms or diseases. Our reiki practitioners are encouraged to have a daily reiki self-care practice. Reiki self-treatment allows us to offer a space to another person where they can let go of stress, and where healing can take place. We see that as our service to the soldiers and their families.

    Thank you, Pamela and Ellen for this post!

    1. Christine,

      Where are you working? I am a Level II practioner and live near Camp Pendelton in southern California. I would love to get into a program like this. Any tips or ideas would be greatly appreciated.


      1. Adrian, I coordinate a reiki program for the non-profit CAUSE at Ft. Belvoir and WRNMMC Bethesda. We offer reiki treatment at the USO building twice a month. The response has been very positive. A reiki presentation (Pamela offers great classes to help you communicate reiki practice credibly!) followed by complimentary reiki sessions at your USO office may be a start.
        Best wishes to you, Christine

  12. Gisela, thank you for your kind words.

    Has your client found benefits that last beyond the treatment experience?

  13. I’m really grateful to you Pamela for your persistent efforts to get the many benefits of Reiki treatment for different user groups out there in the public domain.

    I fully second the author’s experience with military veterans. My client in this situation finds that while receiving Reiki treatment he can fully switch off and deeply relax, which he cannot achieve by any other means. He often falls asleep during Reiki treatment.

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