NPR: Veterans get treatment at sweat lodge ceremony in Utah
Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
"Substance abuse. Violence. Even thoughts of suicide. These are some of the problems that many veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling with.
Today it's called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but it has affected veterans going back much farther. While doctors and researchers put enormous efforts into developing new treatments, one group of veterans in Salt Lake City is finding relief in a very old tradition: a Native American sweat lodge.
If you didn't know to peer over the six-foot brick wall next to a parking lot at Salt Lake's Veterans Affairs center, you'd never guess it was there.
On a Friday afternoon, Cal Bench, a Vietnam veteran, is here early, gathering firewood like he does every week for the ceremony that will start in a few hours.
"I went into the service at 18 and I went to Vietnam at 19," Bench says. "And I had no idea how it would change or affect you mentally. The concept that I would carry that around forever was just hard. But I just never had any place to turn. I came here and I was given a blessing.""
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In Sweat Lodge, Vets Find Healing 'Down To The Core'
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