We can learn much from Native American Traditions! Moral Injury and PTSD Treatment Model…National Veterans Wellness Retreat…Angel Fire, New Mexico…

by | Dec 5, 2012

Battling post-traumatic stress: ‘I’m willing to learn anything’

From right: U.S. veteran Robert Berry and his wife Sandy of Truth or Consequences, and veteran Stephen Sirois and his wife Christine Farrar of Montana are briefed on the schedule of events during the first day of the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center’s only therapeutic retreat scheduled for 2012.

Veterans face emotional wounds of war

By Jesse Chaney
Managing editor

Thursday, November 15, 2012 5:04 AM MST
Robert Berry, 65, still has nightmares about ants crawling all over him as a 20-year-old soldier in the Vietnam War.

“(The soldiers) were in a place the enemy was all around them, and they had to lay down and be perfectly still or they would have been killed,” said Robert’s wife, Sandy. “There were ants, and they were running all over him.”


From friend Richard Fluke… Presently the only retreat for veterans and spouses in the country, but the ball is rolling to establish other retreats based on the National Veterans Wellness Retreat model. Future retreats will also include children, what a beautiful movement.”


The National Wellness and Healing Center relies heavily on Native American methods during its retreats.

“If you go back in time and you look at some of the warriors from 2,000 years ago, they knew what PTSD was. They talked to their military before they left, and they had ceremonies when they came back,” the organization’s board of directors President Chuck Howe, a Vietnam War veteran, told the participating couples Friday. “The same thing’s true of our Native Americans here in this country.”


“is to establish an environment that is responsive to the needs of veterans and military families using creative therapies and processes that focus on emotional and physical healing.”

The following is from my blog posting dated October 8, 2012…http://livingwithptsd-sparkles.blogspot.com/2012/10/veterans-wellness-and-healing-center.html

My blog has often included information and references on “mind and body” alternative treatments to help combat veterans and other trauma victims heal from moral injury and PTSD. I met with Richard Fluke today in Albuquerque, NMex, who is actively involved in the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center (NVWHC). Richard is a Native American and Viet Nam veteran who has been challenged in his life, not only from early childhood as an American Indian, but also from serving in the US Navy on the USS Oklahoma Cityhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Oklahoma_City_(CL-91) in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Viet Nam War.
Richard and I initially connected on Facebook not long before our planned road trip, which included Albuquerque as a point of interest on the way to Florida. After reading Richard’s comments and thoughts on Facebook and my blog regarding PTSD alternative treatments, it seemed like a natural to set up quality time for a meeting while we visited Albuquerque. We met at Starbucks near Old Town on October 7th. Judy and I were immediately taken by Richard’s sincerity and knowledge, especially his active involvement in NVWHC as a post retreat group counselor. Richard and I have much in common. We both served in the US Navy during the Viet Nam era, and while Richard is clearly Native American from the Santa Ana Pueblo Tribehttp://www.santaana-nsn.gov/aboutus.htm, my not so visible American Indian heritage comes from great grandmother Mattie Sparks who was half Lakota. In addition, we both have struggled with trauma, moral injury, and PTSD. And both of us have been on a journey of healing, meeting in a time and place not so coincidental, but as a spiritual gift. I believe that human connectedness is the essence of spirituality. The proof is in the rare opportunities to meet, connect, and engage with others who are on their own journey to find peace of mind, often later in life as we wisely sort out our life experiences and find ways to heal and make a difference for others. Richard Fluke is my friend and colleague now in our mutual journey of healing. Judy and I are looking forward to meeting Richard’s family when we return to Albuquerque in the not too distant future. In the meantime, social media will keep us connected closely. Judy and I are both very grateful for the opportunity to meet Richard Fluke, a very special and wise man with a mission of destiny.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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