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A Heritage of Healing: Native Practitioners to Help Veterans

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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 12:25 PM
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A Heritage of Healing: Native Practitioners to Help Veterans
Ancient Alaska Native healing techniques will soon supplement modern-day treatments for mental health ailments afflicting Alaskans returning from service in the Middle East. Many Alaska National Guard soldiers come from isolated villages. Few have doctors; fewer yet have mental health professionals.

So traditional healers like Kenny Timberwolf will use talking circles, steam houses and subsistence hunts to help Native soldiers relieve their stress.

"Honoring them and welcoming them home as a veteran isn't enough," said Timberwolf, an Alaska Native shaman. "It has to go a lot deeper."

Timberwolf said like others, some Native veterans will have problems readjusting to life at home when they return in October, and Bush communities, because of their extreme isolation, need to start preparing now for their arrival.

"That lingering feeling of being in combat is going to be there," he said.

<snip>

Alaska National Guard Spc. Paul Demmert, 24, served a year in Baghdad on a previous deployment. Now living in Juneau, the Tlingit Guardsman said his unit saw combat and its soldiers were shot at, though none was killed.

"You have your nightmares and your dreams about being back over there," he said.

When Demmert returned, he visited his hometown of Kake, a small, mostly Native village in Southeast Alaska, where he was able to talk to his elders. While Demmert said the military provides great coping tools, it helped him to talk to people who understood both his experiences and his heritage.

"A lot of them were veterans too and it was good to talk to them," he said. "I believe it's good to go through traditional ways."

http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/rural/story/9137821p-905...
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 12:38 PM
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1. You have your whole tribe backing you up
as a support group. I've not done Tlingit ceremony, but I have done ceremony with Choctaw, Lakota, and Cherokee--they can be very powerful and very healing.
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 01:09 PM
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2. Great to hear
Commonsense 'total care' approach.
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