I am a Paramedic, Firefighter, Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Uncle, and Friend. As a Paramedic it is my job to take care of others. As a Firefighter I volunteer to take care of others. In my personal life I take care of anyone who calls me Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Uncle, or Friend. My life is to care for others, I am a Caregiver. I believe that most Caregivers forgot to care about themselves. I know I did.
I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for Sacred Mountain Retreat Center. I had been struggling with PTSD and depression to a point where I was no longer myself. I even attempted suicide 1 week before going to the retreat. My daughter stopped me from committing suicide that day.
While I was at Sacred Mountain, I was initially lost and had no idea why I was there. As the days went on and I formed a bond with everyone else there. I realized my daughter stopped me from killing myself, so I could come to Sacred Mountain to heal, to get better. To be the awesome Daddy and Husband again, and to dig myself back from the bottom and live.
There are no counselors just 7 to 8 other attendees to the retreat and mentors. It’s a very healing place, no cell service no distractions. The daily activities are working with horses, blacksmithing, yoga, and leather work. It is very rewarding to be able to work with your hands. Working with the horses is very relaxing. They also have a massage therapist and cryogenic therapy, which was awesome. For blacksmithing, we took old discarded railroad spikes and reshaped them into a beautiful working knife. For the leather work I took a flat piece of leather and turned it into a belt case for my multitool. I think the blacksmithing and leather work is a good metaphor for how I changed after the retreat.
The most healing part for me was talking to others who have similar trauma and a similar sense of humor. The strangers I met on day 1 are now my Family and I would do anything for them 24/7/365. I’ve got their 6 and I know they have mine. My wife said when I came back I was her “normal” husband again. I have continually been working on getting better ever since.
Thank God for Sacred Mountain Retreat Center and everyone who makes the retreats possible. I love you all and there is no way I could every repay you for what you have done for me and my family.
Cooking dinner with other veterans at the retreat was a great way to break the ice and get to know each other. Once everyone was relaxed we quickly got to know everything we could about each other. Some began to reminisce and others would talk about their struggles and ultimately…a brotherhood was formed.
At the suggestion of a close friend and colleague, I attend the September 2021 retreat at Sacred Mountain Retreat Center. Having been recently diagnosed with PTSD, I was at a point where the stresses of my professional and personal life were weighing heavily on me. I was not interested in traditional retreats or conventional treatments. Sacred Mountain turned out to be exactly what I needed.
The staff at SMRC are extremely welcoming and immediately felt like family. The peaceful surroundings in the Black Hills made for a tranquil environment that fostered healing and self-reflection. Seven veterans, law enforcement personnel, and correctional officers came together as strangers and through activities such as equine therapy and metal work, we quickly became friends, and in the end family. Nightly fireside conversation allowed us to openly communicate in an environment that felt safe and without judgement.
Sacred Mountain’s unique approach through peer-to peer mentoring made it easier for me to open-up and begin the healing process, something I had struggled with in the past. It is not the end-all-be-all solution, however the tools I learned from my peers, and the huge support group I now have, have forever changed my life for the better. Not only do I have the support from the group that I attended with, but I have also made other connections with former attendees and their families. I will forever be indebted to SMRC for being the catalyst that brought the change I so desperately needed.
During my time in the Army, I was physically and sexually assaulted by another member in my unit. This happened in January of 2011 and went to court martial in January of 2012. What I didn’t know was how much this was going to affect my life over the next decade. I was truly broken. Lost and in a space, I described as a black hole and no matter what I did, I couldn’t crawl out. In the spring of 2021, I had planned to take my own life. I was at the lowest of lows. In April of 2021, I attended Sacred Mountain Retreat Center and it truly saved my life. The minute I walked through the doors I felt safe and had this sense of peace…it’s hard to describe. I knew I was in the right place and knew that I needed to be here with an open mind. I didn’t know what to expect being co-ed, but it made it better for me. I learned to trust everyone who was there, either attending or mentoring me. I gained a new family with Sacred Mountain. It helped me find peace and to know that I wasn’t alone in this. It helped me open myself to getting help through the VA and lastly it helped me realize “I’m worth it”. That my life is worthy and worth fighting for. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for Sacred Mountain.
Making a difference in the fight against the Veteran Suicide rate. And Mama DeeDee’s homemade treats are the best.
Great place with an amazing staff! If you are a Veteran, First Responder, or Gold Star family member I highly recommend this retreat. I had an awesome time, their motto says it all “Where the Hills Heal the Heroes”.
It is a very great place to relax, meet with other veterans who share the same bond and much more. Even with the winter weather storm, we had the chance to create handmade knives, learned about horses and connected with nature. As this organization grows, there will much more to help veterans. I look forward to going back again.
By the end of the program, I knew I wasn’t alone. I had sunshine and warm wind appearing during my darkest nights and coldest moments. Now, I can proudly say that I take better care of myself and I’m able to sleep at night. I’ve been able to close chapters in my life that I’ll never go back to.