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.
Our nation’s heroes have an innate desire to serve, and their service gives meaning and purpose to their lives. After an injury or shift/tour of duty ends, that meaning and purpose is often lost. Post-traumatic stress, injuries, depression, addiction, and isolation plague our Sheep Dogs to the point of thinking about and/or attempting suicide. Through our Get Off The Couch™ programming, Sheep Dogs who have suffered similar traumas & experiences gather together for camaraderie and opportunities to continue serving, which helps prevent suicides in our Veteran and First Responder communities.
Joining SDIA in opportunities for physical activities to foster camaraderie (Outdoor Adventures), peer-to-peer training to transform struggle into strength and posttraumatic growth (Warrior PATHH), and volunteer opportunities for continued service (Disaster Response), a Sheep Dogs’ innate desire to serve is again fulfilled. When Sheep Dogs #GetOffTheCouch together, their attitude and perspective are drastically improved, and many find healing and a renewed sense of purpose and belonging.
Cycle of Wellness Triangle & The Continuum of Care
It is SDIA’s belief that the Veterans & First Responders whom we serve enter a unique and impactful “Continuum of Care” through our Get Off The Couch™ programming. This Continuum of Care 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. Warrior PATHH dives deep into PTG and the “Struggle Well” messaging. The third part of the continuum 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 As our primary Get Off The Couch™ program, SDIA offers Outdoor Adventures (OAs) to ENGAGE Sheep Dogs in physically challenging activities that foster camaraderie, peer support and healing. OAs include hunting & fishing, 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). PTG offers hope that they can THRIVE – not in spite of but because of – their experiences. Warrior PATHH is the mental wellness portion of our Get Off The Couch™ programming. This transformative 90-day program begins with seven days of intensive and immersive PTG training at our Heroes Ranch at Rush Springs training campus. Sheep Dogs learn proven practices and techniques to make peace with the past, live in the present, and plan for a great future, allowing them to transform times of deep struggle into profound strength and posttraumatic growth.The Warrior PATHH training program is part of the Avalon Action Alliance, 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. As the volunteerism portion of our Get Off The Couch™ programming, these missions EMPOWER our Sheep Dogs to continue serving their communities and country in times of need. While larger, national disasters make up most of these missions, SDIA encourages our members to help with local community “disasters”, such as conducting minor home repairs for disabled veterans, making a park safe for children, cleaning national cemetery headstones & grounds, working in a soup kitchen, or coaching a youth sports team. All are disasters to those who are affected and are opportunities to serve and give back. Working alongside fellow Sheep Dogs satisfies their innate desire to serve and provides a sense of belonging and purpose many have been missing.
When Sheep Dogs #GetOffTheCouch 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