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.
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!”
DeeDee lives in Baker, Montana and is a wife and a mother of three. She has worked alongside her husband, John, in many different businesses in their almost 45 years of marriage. Although neither Deedee or her husband were in the military, both of their fathers and several family members served our country.
When asked about why she chooses to sit on the board, DeeDee says, “I have such respect for the men and women who serve our country on both foreign and domestic soil, and the sacrifices their families make is beyond words. It is such an honor for me to serve on the SMRC board and an even bigger honor to help with retreats at the center. Getting to know the heroes who attend SMRC is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.”
We welcome Ryan Couch as the newest member of the board at SMRC. Ryan’s credentials start with four years in the United States Marine Corps as an Infantry Squad Leader from 1995-1999. In 1997 he earned the Super Squad badge for the best-trained rifle squad in 1997. After the Marines, Ryan spent two years in the California Army Guard in defense of the Homeland.
The next 22 years were spent with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, working three Maximum Security Prisons. Along with correctional officer and lieutenant duties, Ryan held special assignments as a drug interdiction officer, crime scene investigator, financial crimes investigator.
After attending a retreat at SMRC in September of 2019 and returning as a mentor in April of 2021, Ryan fell in love with our beautiful Black Hills and moved to Rapid City in January of 2022. He took on a position as a correctional officer for the Pennington County Sherriff’s Office as well as a seat on the board of directors with SMRC.
Ryan is married to his beautiful wife, Linda and is the proud father of two sons.