KOAA News 5
February 10, 2016
"You pray for your enemies and people that don't like you," explains Cheek. "And that's difficult, and as a veteran, you're praying for those people that actually shot at you. That helps you come to terms with a lot of the stuff."FORT CARSON - A centuries-old tradition has become a new form of treatment for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the Native American sweat lodge on Fort Carson is leading the way for military installations around the country.
What once was a ritual held in secrecy is now a growing trend among both active duty and veteran warriors seeking its legendary cleansing powers. In a remote section of Turkey Creek, the air is filled with songs and smoke at the Lakota Sioux inipi, a traditional sweat lodge made of willow branches and donated quilts. It has been there since 1995. "They didn't have a clue as to what we were doing, and we weren't telling them at the time," says faith group leader Michael Hackwith.
Hackwith, a Marine veteran of the Gulf War, started the inipi with a couple friends who wanted to follow their own cultural religious practice. They got permission from the manager of the Turkey Creek manager at the time. The participants pray, sing, play drums and sweat in the tent around dozens of hot stones, in complete darkness. It is a purity ritual designed to help sweat out negativity, a common problem for struggling soldiers.
Special Agent Kevin Cheek of the Air Force, now the military liaison for the sweat lodge, says, "I've deployed five times. I've been there and back, and all that negative baggage that you collect and the things that you see and stuff like that, this helps you cope. This helps you deal with all that."
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