Ask someone if they want to skydive, and you are sure to get one of two adamant answers – “YES! Let’s do it!” or “Are you CRAZY?! Why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane?!” Fortunately for the willing, both the Northwest Arkansas Chapter and Michigan Team of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) recently held skydiving events – with the others enjoying the excitement and camaraderie with their feet firmly on the ground.
While some members of SDIA have jumped as part of their military training, not all did. For those who stayed on the ground or in the plane, skydiving may provide the rush of combat or other intensive training in a very new way.
This was the case for sponsored first-time skydiver USMC Cpl Justin Denslow at the Michigan Team’s July 3 event held at Skydive Tecumseh. After being diagnosed with PTSD upon his return from Afghanistan, Cpl Denslow tried various treatments/training to manage his symptoms – with various success – as he integrated back into civilian life. Like most, he has struggled in finding the camaraderie and rush of his military experiences.
“I imagine it’s impossible to replace the adrenaline rush you experience from being in combat situations,” Denslow said, “but this [jump] was very close!”
Participating in the Michigan Team’s skydiving adventure has Denslow eagerly awaiting their next adventure. “[SDIA’s Outdoor Adventures] is a great program, and I am becoming more involved with the events that Sheep Dog is sponsoring. It’s great to be part of anything that helps me relive certain aspects of my military career.”
Cpl Charles Sharrer, the second sponsored Sheep Dog for Michigan’s event, agrees. “[SDIA] has helped me to live life to the fullest,” he said, “and has helped me get back to where I came from in terms of the brotherhood of the Marines.”
On Saturday, June 11, the Northwest Arkansas Chapter held their biannual Skydiving & pizza at Skydive Skyranch. 30 SDIA members, volunteers and supporters ate delicious pizza while watching the skydivers, and enjoyed a day of excitement, laughter and camaraderie.
For Army Specialist Scott West, who lost both legs to an IED in Iraq in December 2005, it was an amazing day. After his injury, he endured 38 surgeries in 30 days and spent time rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center prior to medically retiring in 2007. But that was just the beginning of his recovery; he was lost in addiction for many years, which resulted in divorce and no contact with his young son. West is now clean, and is thankful for the opportunity to be a sponsored skydiver. He credits SDIA with helping renew his zest for life in spite of his injuries. “[SDIA] helped me realize I can still contribute to my community,” West said, “and that I can realize my true potential by pushing past my perceived limitations.”
If you – or someone you know – have been injured in combat or the line of duty and would be interested in being sponsored for an SDIA Outdoor Adventure, please email your contact information to Jason at JOsborne@SheepDogIA.org.
The Michigan Team and Northwest Arkansas Chapter Facebook pages have more skydiving photos – check them out! Be sure to take a look at SDIA’s Event Calendar, too – there are many more adventures and events coming up. And don’t forget to find your local SDIA Chapter or Team on Facebook! (NOTE: not all have pages; to contact those not listed, get their contact info on our Teams & Chapters page)
CHAPTER & TEAM FACEBOOK PAGES:
Central AR Chapter
Northwest AR Chapter
River Valley Team
Chicago/NW Indiana Team
Greater Cincinnati Chapter
St Louis Chapter
Eastern NC Chapter
Western NC Chapter
Northeast OK Chapter
Eastern TN Team
South Texas Chapter
North Texas Team
Southwest Virginia Team