Outdoor Adventures Foster Healing for Veterans & First Responders

From late March through early June, SDIA was very busy helping Sheep Dogs #GetOffTheCouch on SEVEN Outdoor Adventures. Particularly for sponsored Sheep Dogs – those veterans and/or first responders injured in combat/line of duty or experiencing intense stressors – time away from day-to-day issues and anxiety, and spending time outdoors with fellow Sheep Dogs is exactly what is needed. It fosters camaraderie, organic healing, and many times leads to a renewed sense of purpose to reengage in living a productive and meaningful life.

 

To all the companies, organizations and individuals that partnered with us and/or sponsored/donated to these Outdoor Adventures, thank you for your support and generosity, and for making our Sheep Dogs feel like the heroes they are. To see more photos from many of these adventures, visit our Facebook page.

 

If you are interested in learning more about our Outdoor Adventures or know of a Sheep Dog in need of camaraderie and healing, contact Cortney (CWells@SheepDogIA.org or 636-357-1531).

 


SDIA Spring Upland Game Bird Hunt – 3/21-24

“[I often find myself] unmotivated, with a sense of hopelessness, undisciplined, depressed. What I originally thought was going to be my biggest challenge [on the Outdoor Adventure] ended up being what I loved the most – getting to know some new people. [I realized] I should do enjoyable things more often. Does my spirit good!” –Army Veteran

 

The third weekend in March found 11 Sheep Dogs sponsored for SDIA’s annual Spring Game Bird Hunt at Bethel Ranch. In addition to hunting quail, amazing food and camaraderie, these Veterans and First Responders had the opportunity to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at Skydive Spaceland Dallas. Thanks to George Nunnally Chevrolet for providing a vehicle to transport everyone together!


SDIA Spring Hog Hunt – 3/28-31

“I always attempt to get off the couch as much as possible, but the weight I have put on makes it difficult to prolong the adventure. I became an SDIA member in 2018, and it has been the most motivating factor to get up and go out with the guys. The camaraderie of being around guys the same as me makes me motivated to try and get better. Even my wife stated I come back a different person [after an Outdoor Adventure] and wants me to continue to go.” –Marine Veteran

 

At the end of March, 4 sponsored Sheep Dogs returned from their awesome Spring Hog Hunt Outdoor Adventure weekend in Texas. This annual hunt helps our Sheep Dogs #GetOffTheCouch, and Pease River Hunt & Gun Club anticipates every need as they hunt, eat, relax and enjoy the camaraderie of being with fellow Sheep Dogs. Thanks to Tru-Spec, Rocky Boots, Hawke Optics, and Twisted X for donating gear to these hero hunters!


Buffalo River Adventure – 5/3-6

“My normal day consists of sitting on the couch and reading books, watching tv…so when I actually had to move, it wasn’t the easiest thing. I was in tears and in so much pain going up [on the hike…but realized] I was capable of doing far greater things than I have given myself credit for. I have agoraphobia (an extreme fear of entering open and/or crowded places) and anxiety, but every day I faced my fears, wiped the tears away, put a smile on my face and DID it! I had to overcome a lot of obstacles to fully participate. While I still have agoraphobia, I learned that if I want something bad enough, nothing can stop me. Also I pushed myself physically every day to get off the couch and participate. This trip has only encouraged me to go outdoors and enjoy the scenery.” –Navy Veteran

 

The first weekend in May SDIA helped 29 Sheep Dogs #GetOffTheCouch and into the great outdoors with others who have experienced the same struggles and traumas for our Buffalo River Outdoor Adventure. We were honored to have Veterans referred to us from the VA Vet Centers along for an incredible weekend of rafting, ziplining, horseback riding and hiking. Huge thanks to Walmart, DVNF, JUNK Brands, Spectrum Brands, US Dept of Veterans Affairs, Vet Centers, Veterans United Foundation, and Dare Devil Display Works for their support, sponsorship of and donations for this adventure. More photos are in our Facebook Album.


Central Arkansas Chapter Heroes Ruck Challenge – 5/18

This annual 15.3-mile ruck march hosted by our Central Arkansas Chapter began at 8:00 AM on Saturday, May 18, at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum on the North Little Rock side of the Arkansas River. Each mile along the route was dedicated to a fallen military or first responder hero. Both individuals and teams participated, some marching “in memory of” or “in honor of” an injured or fallen comrade, friend or family member. Thank you to North Little Rock Parks and Recreation, Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, Paradise Donuts, Kroger, Carr’s Chain Reaction, and Survivor Outreach Services-Camp Robinson for their contributions in making this Ruck successful. More photos at their Facebook page.


St. Louis Chapter Muddy Adventure – 5/30-6/2

Our St. Louis Chapter‘s Big Muddy Adventure was an incredible trip for our 5 sponsored Sheep Dogs. Thanks to generous host Big Muddy Adventures, the group had a great 4-day adventure, complete with a stop in New Haven at Astral Glass Studio where participants created their very own hand-blown glass ornaments. Storms on the final night caused some issues the final day, but that gave everyone an opportunity to tour some St. Louis landmarks, most notably, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.


Kansas Chapter Porsche Driving Experience – 6/6

“I struggle with depression, anxiety, lack of self-worth and even have suicidal ideations at times…and am definitely unmotivated. [On the Outdoor Adventure,] I enjoyed being around my veteran peers. Hitting 140mph on the straight away of the track – for the first time in a while I felt exhilarated! It forced me to allow myself to have some fun and enjoy myself. [I also realized] that I can’t be as effective as I’d like to be in being a positive energy in others’ lives if I don’t take better care of myself.” –Navy Veteran

 

June 5 saw our Kansas Chapter and 9 sponsored Sheep Dogs flying around the race track and navigating the obstacle course at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. An exhilarating Outdoor Adventure, to say the least!


Northwest Arkansas Chapter Skydiving & Axe Throwing Adventure – 6/7-10

“Depression & lack of motivation have sometimes plagued me due to the complexity of 30 years in law enforcement; that combined with the death of co-workers throughout the years. Participating in events like this [Outdoor Adventure] definitely helps negative internal emotions, and I easily was able to relax and have fun!! For me, it also helps to be with others who may be struggling, and then be able to help them anyway possible…by motivating, assisting, or simply by listening.” –Law Enforcement Officer

 

In early June, SDIA sponsored 10 Sheep Dogs for a Skydiving & Axe Throwing adventure weekend. Ozark Axe House showed everyone how to throw an axe and hit the target, and the exhilarating experience of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane was facilitated by the awesome staff at Skydive Fayetteville. Thanks also to Jayme Lingo, Kay Ricker, and Monte Ne Inn Chicken for the fabulous meals they provided our group.