The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that more than 6,000 Veterans die by suicide each year, and twice as many First Responders die by suicide than in the line of duty. Post-traumatic stress, injuries, depression, addiction, and isolation plague our Sheep Dogs to the point of thinking about and/or attempting suicide.
By gathering together Sheep Dogs who have suffered similar traumas & experiences in opportunities for physical activity, camaraderie & healing (Outdoor Adventures), peer-to-peer training to transform struggle into strength and posttraumatic growth (Warrior PATHH), and volunteer opportunities for Continued Service (disaster response missions), SDIA has found this process to be critical to their overall well-being. SDIA is able to ENGAGE, ASSIST & EMPOWER our nation’s heroes to Get Off The Couch™ with their brothers & sisters, which prevents suicides in our Veteran and First Responder communities.
Cycle of Wellness Triangle & The Continuum of Care
It is SDIA’s belief and intention that the Veterans & First Responders whom we serve enter a unique and impactful “cycle of wellness” through SDIA programming. This Cycle of Wellness ideally begins with SDIA’s Outdoor Adventure program, promoting an active lifestyle, an introduction to Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) & the “Struggle Well” concepts, while providing participants with vital peer support & camaraderie. Participants are then encouraged and invited to become students of SDIA’s Warrior PATHH program, which is a non-clinical mental wellness training program. Warrior PATHH dives deep into PTG and the “Struggle to Strength” messaging. The third part of the healing process is SDIA’s Continued Service/Disaster Response (Volunteerism) program. Participating in Continued Service opportunities reinforce the importance of continuing to serve and give back through volunteering within their communities. After all, “Helping is Healing” and “Helping Others is a Way of Life”.
- Outdoor Adventures To help our Sheep Dogs Get Off The Couch™ and stay active each month, SDIA offers Outdoor Adventures (OAs) to ENGAGE them in physically challenging activities that foster camaraderie, peer support and healing. OAs include hunting & fishing trips, obstacle course races, skydiving, RZR riding, hiking, snowmobiling and many more activities. For our sponsored Sheep Dogs (those injured in combat or the line of duty), these no-cost adventures help them test their rehabilitation progress, restore independence and self-confidence, and support living an active lifestyle. These opportunities for healing and camaraderie are vital to inspiring a positive state of mind and perspective.
- Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) is the nation’s ﬁrst non-clinical, peer-to-peer program designed to ASSIST struggling Combat Veterans and First Responders in learning how to use their past trauma and experiences to achieve Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) and launch themselves into living their best lives. PTG offers hope that they can THRIVE – not in spite of but because of – their experiences. The Warrior PATHH training program is part of the Gary Sinise Foundation Avalon Network, and has been brought to Northwest Arkansas through a partnership between SDIA and the Boulder Crest Foundation.
- Continued Service/Disaster Response Disaster Response is what SDIA was founded on and it continues to be our primary Continued Service opportunity. Other opportunities to serve are found within each community and include assisting with events, cleaning/maintaining parks, distributing food & water, and other local needs. These continued service missions EMPOWER our Sheep Dogs to continue serving their communities and country in times of need. When a natural disaster strikes, teams of skilled Sheep Dogs & volunteers deploy to provide immediate “impact assistance” to devastated communities through chainsaw work, tree & debris removal, muck-out operations, and other meaningful tasks. Working alongside fellow Sheep Dogs and giving back to their communities satisfies their innate desire to serve and provides a sense of belonging and purpose many have been missing.
When Sheep Dogs Get Off The Couch together, their attitude, motivation and perspective are drastically improved.
“It felt so good helping people and talking to those in need. At the end of each day, I felt beat up and tired…and very happy, looking forward to the next day. I have a need to serve as it makes me whole as a human. Through this organization, I get to be part of something bigger than me.”Scott S., Army Veteran and first-time Disaster Response volunteer