If you looked up in the sky over Siloam Springs, Arkansas, late in the afternoon on Sunday, October 12, 2014, you may have noticed that the sky had a few unusual fliers in it. That’s because Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) partnered with Skydive Skyranch in Siloam Springs to sponsor some Combat Wounded Veterans for tandem parachute jumps. The Veterans had both sustained significant injuries during their tours of duty, including amputation of one or both lower legs.
Weather caused the original jump date to be rescheduled, and this same weather system delayed Sunday’s fun as well. The veterans – Cpl Cody Jones (USMC) and Sgt Matthew Melancon (US Army) – and a couple of SDIA members had to wait most of the day for jump clearance. While the group waited, a BBQ and Social was held for their members, volunteers, families and friends.
For Cpl Jones, this was his first time skydiving. “It was amazing!” said Jones. “I’d always wanted to skydive, but didn’t have the opportunity in training. I’m so thankful to SDIA and Skyranch for making this possible.”
To some, hosting events like this may seem to be purely for entertainment. But SDIA’s Sheep Dog in Need program and subprograms work together to motivate and reengage Sheep Dogs who may have lost their drive and focus after their active service, particularly for those injured.
“Our Sheep Dogs have made enormous sacrifices for us,” explained SgtMaj Lance Nutt (USMC), president and founder of SDIA. “Many of them struggle with physical and emotional wounds suffered in combat and feel they can no longer contribute to society in a significant way. Adventure races, hunts and special events like the parachute jump provide an outlet for these Sheep Dogs and fill a greater need for a sense of purpose and camaraderie by giving these brave men and women something to focus on. This leads to a more positive mental state and helps them to know that whatever their injuries, they can overcome them and continue to have a life with purpose.”
For Northwest Arkansas Chapter Members and Volunteers who had signed up to jump but were unable to, watch SDIA’s calendar of events this spring for another opportunity to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. You won’t want to miss it!