Tonganoxie sweat lodge helps veterans cope with mental health disorders

Health Check

TONGANOXIE, Kan. (KSNT) – Veteran Jim Fackrell knows firsthand what it’s like to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He wanted to help other veterans coping with PTSD, depression, and suicidal thoughts, so he started the Sacred Hearts Healing Center Veteran’s Lodge “Catch 22”.

“We have a program called Catch 22, to catch the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day,” Fackrell said. “Our program is a nonprofit, and we try to offer our vets a mind, body, spirit experience to help them find their sense of tribe. We offer help with their diet, meditation techniques to try and have new ways of coping. We try to do things like having a sweat lodge.”

The sweat lodge is offered once a month to veterans for free. Tito Alfredo Medina is one local veteran, who’s seen a lot of health benefits from the sweat lodge.

“I had so much tension in my body. My whole body was constantly stressed,” Alfredo Medina said. “When I started doing sweat lodges, I started noticing my tight body isn’t so tight, and I started feeling a whole lot better.”

Sacred Hearts Healing Center refers to the sweat lodges as a spiritual cleanse, through Native teachings.

“The sweat lodge is a place of going back to your birth. This is like a womb, you back to your birth, and start out clean when you come out of there,” Paul Hudson, the Honored Elder for the lodge said. “We have sessions for giving thanks, for our ancestors and relatives, and we have sessions to ask for things to help other people.”

“When we come into the lodge, we come in and pray,” Fackrell said. “We suffer for others, while also suffering for ourselves, to try and get rid of the trauma we have. And we lift each other up in lodge and are all one while we’re inside that lodge.”

Sacred Hearts Healing Center offers a free monthly sweat lodge for veterans and a separate sweat lodge for the rest of the community to attend. For more information on the lodge and how you can give back to the nonprofit, click here.

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