WHERE THE HILLS HEAL THE HEROES
Veterans and First Responders who live, or have lived, a life in the service of others often wear the emotional and physical scars of their chosen profession. Sacred Mountain Retreat Center was founded to help those suffering from PTSD or trauma help process their demons and quiet the chaos. Our cost-free, 7-day retreats are set in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota on 65 peaceful acres.
SMRC is a catalyst for positive change in the lives of our heroes. We help to eliminate the noise of everyday life and encourage healing through exposure to nature, alternative healing methods and open communication with our brothers and sisters in arms.
Our program is 100% mentor based. We don’t have counselors or therapists. We use hands-on therapy that promotes comradery. The activities that attendees participate in include equine therapy, working with our hands through metal work, leather work and woodworking, beautifying the land surrounding the lodge, meal preparation, body healing and more.
Through our retreats, together, we save lives, save relationships, and save careers.
SMRC BOARD of directors
Nancy is a retiree from the US Department of Agriculture, having served with both agencies of Rural Development and Forest Service. Her husband is an Army Vet, having served in Desert Storm, and also a former US Homeland Security Air Marshall.
Both Nancy and her husband are advocates of programs that work with veterans, law enforcement and first responders to assist with the quality of life and decrease the effects of PTSD.
Nancy says, “Living in the Hills and having a stellar program like SMRC nearby seems like a natural fit for me to become involved with.”
She looks forward to serving on the board of SMRC and working with participants to learn more of the needs to move the program to higher levels.
Sandy has been a dedicated business owner and volunteer for over 30 years, in support of military families and local communities. She has been an active participant of SMRC events for five years and thrilled at the opportunity to grow her partnership with such an amazing organization.
During her time as President of the Officers Spouses Club, Sandy guided and coordinated focused efforts of over 80 volunteers to raise over $100k for women and children shelters, children’s homes, reading programs, scholarships, assisted living homes, and Habitat for Humanity. She has led and worked on numerous events with military and local leaders.
Sandy has involvement as a Key Spouse for her husband’s unit in support of military families and Airmen. In 2012, she became involved with many wounded warrior events across the country volunteering her time and business resources.
Sandy looks forward to serving on the Board of Directors for SMRC. She said, “This is quite an honor to be a part of something so inspiring and healing for all attending an SMRC Retreat.”
Amber Irving was born and raised in Rapid City, SD; and she’s a high school graduate of Douglas High School. She continued her education receiving degrees in Psychology and Early Childhood Education. Amber started her work in non-profit in 2006 working for the Cornerstone Rescue Mission helping develop and start the Childcare Program advocating for the Children, being there voice. After successfully getting the program off the ground Amber started her roadmap into the building industry working for Menards. Amber traveled throughout the Midwest opening new stores, training and setting them up for success; after six years on the road and five stores, Amber changed directions and found her calling into the insurance industry. Amber is the Office Manager for Gregg Fullerton State Farm Agency where she has worked for the past eleven years. Her passion and being able to educate her customers on the “why” of insurance is what she feels makes her mission complete.
Amber became an active member of Black Hills Home Builders Association back in 2015, joined the State Board of Directors and Local Board of Directors in 2017. She has served on numerous committees, chaired committees, and held several board positions both locally and at the State Level; her current position is 2023 BHHBA President. Amber passion is educating others on insurance and giving back to the community.
Amber joined Board of Directors for Sacred Mountain Retreat Center in 2023. Amber has been part of numerous events in the past of SMRC; and wanted to take the next step to continue giving back to SMRC and those who attend the program. Amber has seen firsthand the effects that PTSD has on families, relationships, employment and how it changes one’s quality of life.
Amber goal is to continuing giving back; through her non-profit work, fundraising, focusing on helping those who need it the most.
Daniel Rosser is a dedicated and passionate board member at Sacred Mountain Retreat Center a dynamic and impactful 503(c)(3) where The Sacred Mountain Retreat Center seeks to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s wounded, ill or injured Veterans, First Responders, & Gold Star families. We are a catalyst for positive change in the lives of these heroes. We help to eliminate the noise of everyday life and encourage healing through exposure to nature, alternative healing methods, and open communication with our brothers and sisters in arms. With a deep-rooted belief in God and County, Daniel Rosser brings invaluable expertise and a strong commitment to driving positive change through their role on the board.
Having accumulated 10 plus years of experience in helping veterans and first responders and being a first responder EMT himself, Daniel Rosser possesses a wealth of knowledge and insights that greatly contribute to the strategic direction and decision-making of the organization. Daniel Rosser has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and a keen ability to foster collaboration among fellow board members, staff, and stakeholders.
As a staunch advocate for helping men and woman who have served our country and citizens Daniel Rosser plays an instrumental role in guiding Sacred Mountain Retreat Center towards its goals of helping our Veterans, Active Military, and First Responders heal. Their visionary thinking and innovative approach have led to the successful implementation of a no cost, 7-day program to veterans, first responders, and Goldstar families who are injured or suffering from PTSD or trauma. We Got Your 6!
Beyond their board responsibilities, Daniel Rosser actively engages with the community, using their platform to raise awareness about the need to help our veterans and first responders who may be suffering in silence and inspire others to get involved. Daniel Rosser is known for his exceptional ability to connect with diverse audiences and inspire action, making him a driving force behind Sacred Mountain Retreat Center ‘s positive impact.
Daniel Rosser is a true embodiment of Sacred Mountain Retreat Center ‘s values, consistently going above and beyond to contribute to the organization’s mission and success. His dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment make him an invaluable asset to the board and a respected figure in the community.
Connect with Daniel Rosser on Facebook, and join him in the mission to help our Veterans, Active Military, and First Responders heal.
Born in Denton Texas he grew up working for his father’s chimney sweep business and then as an EMT for private Ambulance companies and a managed health care company where he transitioned from a medical focus position to the computer support services department while attending the University of North Texas where he received a bachelor’s degree in general business studies. Then For the last 26 plus years Daniel has owned and operated several companies in the Information technology space and has also been a Real estate Broker for the 16 plus years serving both residential and commercial clients.
Daniel has been dedicated and married for over 26 years to Sabrina Rosser and they have 2 children, Morgan and Nathan.
In Memory of Tony Ryan
𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐌𝐑𝐂 𝐕𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭, 𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐑𝐲𝐚𝐧, 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐨𝐧 𝐌𝐚𝐲 𝟏𝟒𝐭𝐡, 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟑. 𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐚𝐠𝐧𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟗, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐞. 𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐒𝐌𝐑𝐂 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 (𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟖). 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐲. 𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐲’𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐠𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬. 𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐲𝐩𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧, 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩.
Tony grew up as one might call a “Cradle Patriot”, with his father being a USAF fighter pilot. Tony was raised with a great love of God, family and country. He dreamed of following is his father’s footsteps, becoming an American warrior, but unfortunately, an accident ended that dream. Instead, he became an entrepreneur, owning several businesses throughout his career. In 2010 Tony, along with retired First Sergeant Dana Bowman, created Halo for Freedom Warrior Foundation to give back to our American heroes, the men and women that serve our country. Not just military, but all first responders!
Although, after serving them for over a decade, he came to realize really didn’t understand our heroes enough. He says, “I’ve never served, so I have never been the places that they have been. I have never seen the things they have seen. I have never done the things that they were ordered to do. So, when they are suffering from PTSD, TBI or addictions and wanting to take their own lives, it is very hard to comprehend. I have prayed over the years that I could just spend one day in their boots so that I may understand them better; so that I may serve them better and possibly change and save more lives!”
In 2020, Tony’s prayer was answered, in a curious way. He went to battle; but not against the enemy that that they’ve been fighting. He went to war against cancer. He was in a fight for his life. He experienced being in a cold, dark place isolated in the hospital all alone. He became hooked on opioids, and eventually, the day came when he wanted it all to stop. He wanted to end his life.
We are happy to report that Tony is now cancer free! Tony expressed, “God has blessed me beyond measure and has given me insight to what these warriors face every day and I now feel like I am on a level that I can relate to them. I thank Jesus every day for what I went through and that he has giving me the chance to reach more people and save more lives. It is a privilege and an honor to serve on the Board of Directors for Sacred Mountain Retreat Center where lives are being changed and saved!”
SMRC Team members
Volunteer Yoga Teacher
As a veteran myself, I know the physical and emotional struggles that come with serving your country. For me, yoga and meditation have been very healing. I am happy to share it with others, in order to help them on their own healing journey.
I started massage with Ayurveda certification at the California College of Ayurveda in 2003. From there, I moved back to Washington and became a licensed massage practitioner in 2010 for the State of Washington.
I enjoyed working at Centering Massage, but I took some time away from massage as I was blessed with two little kids. I also performed breastfeeding peer counseling for WIC for nearly 10 years. Before I left WIC, I went back to Centering Massage before moving to South Dakota where I started Ayurvedic Massage Practice at the Infinity Day Spa in Summerset.
I feel most rewarded working with the veterans and first responders, as they have done so much for us and our country. I am currently waiting to be authorized as a veteran massage therapist in Summerset, and I hope to continue with the Sacred Mountain Retreat Center.
I was introduced to the blacksmith trade about 12 years ago. I fell in love with the craft, but I could not find anyone in the area to teach me. Fortunately, I got lucky and found a great mentor in the Jackson Hole, WY area.
When I was asked to teach for the Sacred Mountain Retreat Center, I was not sure I had the ability to teach the craft, but I was drawn to the challenge. I knew the craft would bring joy to others when they created something from a hard piece of steel. (Afterall, it worked for my stepson who is still in the army after 22 years!) I started teaching at SMRC to pass on the basic skills, but I soon realized that I enjoyed the participants as much as teaching the craft.
It has been a joy and honor to meet and forge with people that have given so much of themselves to our country. I am so glad that I can bring a little joy to them by showing them something I love to do.
So, come join us in the forge! A place where we can heat it and beat it.
Kjetil “KJ” Groven
Woodworker & Carver
I am from Skien Norway, but I moved to South Dakota in 1999. I have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, but I find working with my hands more enjoyable.
As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents on the family farm. On the farm, I was exposed to working with my hands. At age five or six, I received my first knife. Along with trial and error, I earned many cuts and a few stitches. When I was 12, I made my first knife and I made my first carved spoon at 13.
Today, I combine most of my woodworking skills with blacksmithing and toolmaking. In fact, most of my work is related to creating old Scandinavian hand tools and teaching about it at different institutions in the U.S.
Working and creating things with your hands is great for both mental and physical health. I believe very few people know what they can actually create with just a knife. Plus, it does not require a huge investment in shop space or tools to start.
I am so happy to spread the knowledge that I have gained in my life with other people. In my opinion, almost anyone can benefit from doing more work like this, not only people at SMRC. I am glad to help people in my own small way; and, hopefully, this is something that will make their life a little bit better.