Veteran Thoughts, Reflections & Creations

We are proud to support our Veteran Brothers and Sisters as they speak from their experience, share their knowledge, gift us with their creativity and insight.

 

TRANSCENDENT 

I sing my song to the coming of the dawn as the close darkness slips away.

My verses welcome the coming of the light and warmth that is to be.

Praise, not bound by words, fill my heart and soul.

I cannot speak lest I lose the wonder that I feel.

On sacred wings I soar on high. The eagle glides away.

I sing my song to the coming dawn as the darkness slips away.

Casey Baugh
U.S.M.C. 1959 – 1963

 

“…then I heard the drums
A Pow Wow in Southern Medford. The drums spoke to my heart and my soul. I heard echoes of my ancestors. I heard and felt their awakening. Slowly, I began to follow these whispers from my DNA, to learn my native language and customs, to see myself as a Native American man.

I was raised in the midwest, God, Country, Mom, and apple pie land. I volunteered to Vietnam and spent two tours there. Afterward, it was pretty crazy. A lot of anger, isolation, nightmares, drugs, heavy drinking and a recognition that old friends I knew before Nam were no longer friends as we didn’t even speak the same language. I knew something was wrong, but had no idea what. I spent years running, living in the cold of upper Wisconsin, job after job,  until I finally wound up on the West Coast. Finally, I learned what PTSD was and how it was effecting me. I sobered up, went to treatment, and thought I was on the way to ‘normal.’

But I think there are ghosts of war, images, smells, sounds, that continue to haunt, clinging to us like specteral fog, so there are different paths through this forest of recovery. We must heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Each are paths on our journey home.

The Sweat Lodge is a sacred place. Inside the lodge, you gather and the Grandfather Stones are brought in, their hearts showing the deep red heat from the fire. It is hot, steamy, and utterly dark. Inside it is a mysterious, spiritual place filled with song, drumming, prayer and a deep sense of belonging. It is a place where I can gather with my brothers and sisters and speak from my heart about where I have been and what demons still haunt my dreams. It is a place where old faces and misguided missions can be recalled and ancient pain can be soothed. But more, the Lodge is a place that I can share my strength for others as well. I am there for my healing and to assist others in their’s.

There is a bond shared by those who know combat, and in the Sweat Lodge this bond is reforged in heat, prayer, and song.

John Whitten
Vietnam Veteran
Elder Council Member

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