Camp Uses American Indian Traditions to Help Soldiers Heal

February 26, 2007

Author: Cindy V. Culp

Source: Waco Tribune-Herald

For decades, Richard Thompson has struggled with an injury he received during Marine Corps training.

But the Gholson resident doesn’t dwell on the loss of most of the hearing in his left ear. Instead, he is troubled that the resulting medical discharge rendered him unable to serve in Vietnam.

As Thompson got news of buddy after buddy getting killed in the war there, the question of why he was spared ate at him. The question lingered for decades - until he got an invitation last year.

A friend at the local Veterans Administration office called him and asked if he would volunteer at a retreat camp for soldiers and their spouses. Called Project Phoenix, the camp is located about 45 miles north of Dallas and is designed to help soothe the invisible wounds of war.

Organizers wanted Thompson’s help because of his American Indian heritage. His grandmother was a Shawnee and grandfather was a Nez Perce.