Soldiers suffering from PTSD try to sweat out the stress

Feb 16, 2016 2:55 PM by NBC News

A centuries-old tradition has become a new form of treatment for soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A Native American sweat lodge on Fort Carson is leading the way for military installations around the country.

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 ranch 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.

Fort Carson formally recognized the sweat lodge as a religious practice in 2005, the first ever on a military base. Chaplains now recommend the ritual to those with PTSD. Guided by natives belting out tribal chants, everyone else is encouraged to pray in their own faith.


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