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New veteran's support group shares Native American wisdom for healing

A new support group is reaching out to veterans who may be suffering from symptoms of PTSD.

The program incorporates wisdom and methods used by Native American warriors who returned from battle with emotional and psychological wounds.

Historically, Native Americans have served in the military at higher rates than all other U.S. populations.

A 2012 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed the percentage of Native veterans under age 65 outnumbers similar percentages for veterans of all other minorities combined.

Jeremy Biggs, a local veteran and a member of the Ojibwa tribe, founded the group, called Removing the War Paint.

It’s designed to address the needs of all veterans, not just Natives, who are enduring the pain of PTSD.

“We can look at Africa, India, Russia, Europe, South America, we all had warrior societies at one time, and we had to have ways of fixing these problems,” Biggs said.

He says in some Native American societies, when warriors return from the battlefield, they have to remain outside of the civilian village for a certain length of time to “remove the war paint,” both physically and mentally, with the help of elders, ceremonies and rituals.  

But Bigg’s support group will be more like working with a coach.

"They can look at it as, 'this is what I need to to, this what I think it right, and I'm going to have somebody walk me through it step-by-step,'" Biggs said. "'And I'm going to have other veterans around me who've been in similar situations, we're going to create that team atmosphere.'"

Biggs started the program two weeks ago, and he says he’s still enrolling soldiers, veterans and their spouses to join.

For more information about Removing the War Paint, you can visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/nativeamericanedures or contact Jeremy Biggs at woodlandalliance@yahoo.com.

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