SHEEP DOG – noun
1.Protector of the flock. Killer of the wolf. Willing to sacrifice life and limb in defense of the Sheep.
The mission of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance is to improve the lives of our nation’s veterans and first responders in need by helping them Get Off The Couch™ and reengage in living an active, meaningful and productive life through their outdoor adventures and disaster response mission programs.
How it began…
SgtMaj Lance Nutt was sitting at home after a bad deployment, watching hurricane Katrina unfold and was shocked by the realization that people sat for days without help; hungry, thirsty, exhausted, injured and some even dying. He realized that screaming at the tv was not going to help and decided that he needed to get out there and do something. Nutt ended up getting a couple of Marine Corps buddies, family and friends together and went down to Louisiana to assist in any way they could. His Marine mentality set in and before most organizations were ready to mobilize, SgtMaj used his years of emergency and logistical training to lead a strategic relief effort straight into the heart of the destruction. Upon seeing the immense devastation and delay of relief to the victims, he realized this was something he really wanted to pursue and made the decision to act. Fast forward a few years and a couple more deployments, Lance filed for a 501c3. He was deployed in Ramadi when the paperwork was finalized in 2010. Welcome, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.
What started out as a “hobby” quickly became a full time job. After years of self-funding and helping veterans and first responders Get Up Off The Couch, SgtMaj realized how big and impactful his mission had become. Word of mouth spread rapidly, and he was soon being contacted by people in other states asking how they could help their veterans and first responders in the same way. Chapters and teams across the nation started to develop and today there a total of 22 teams and chapters.
The territory that comes with any natural disaster can be detrimental. To date, SDIA has responded to 60 disasters. The most recent response was the tornado that hit Nashville, Tennessee. Over the past 10 years they have acquired numerous trucks, trailers, tools, boats and chainsaws to better prepare them for when the next disaster strikes. One of the most challenging responses for SDIA was Hurricane Harvey that hit Houston, Texas in 2017. This was a very large scale operation. They had 600+ members and volunteers working through the neighborhoods. This mission consisted of 3 different deployments over a 4 week span. To name a few, they assisted with boat rescue, chainsaw work and debris removal. There was no limit to the work that needed to be done. They also helped cook for the community and handed out water, gear and supplies.
Because disasters don’t happen every day, they knew they needed to do something else to keep veterans and first responders engaged. There were a couple of years of no disasters to respond to and they were all sitting around having chapter meetings with nothing else to do. This is when the idea of outdoor adventures came into play and it gave them the opportunity to bring back moral and camaraderie during their down time. If they couldn’t deploy, then they wanted to go and do something else, something social. A few of the trips have included scuba diving, sky diving, spartan races, hunting and fishing trips. Team Rubicon, another veteran service organization, calls the time between disasters “deployment blues.” This is a time that veterans and first responders feel down and out because they are not with their brothers and sisters. One of the first outdoor adventures was a Spartan Race ran by 2 Marines that SgtMaj found from the wounded warrior battalion. In 2019, SDIA partnered with the vet centers and were able to achieve larger scale adventures; including and not limited to New Your Tunnel to Tower, Buffalo River excursions and snowmobiling at Yellowstone. For the larger outdoor adventures, they can accommodate up to 80 attendees. They have learned that the magic number is 36 to ensure each veteran and first responder is receiving the attention they need and deserve. These adventures help instill there is a healthier lifestyle out there. All they have to do is be willing to Get Up Off The Couch, go out and do within their community.
As a community, there are several ways we can help Sheep Dog continue in their disaster responses and aiding in outdoor adventures. The most common need are monetary donations. They need that stability to pay all the overhead, to assist the men and women that they take on adventures and disaster response missions. Not only that, but fuel, travel and food are huge expenses that they can’t necessarily pay for without those donations. Another way to help is with in kind donations. Gifts in kind is a type of charitable giving in which, instead of giving money to buy needed goods and services, the goods and services themselves are given. Gift cards are also a great way to give. During each disaster response, many trips to Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot happen in order to purchase necessities during that given time. It is very expensive for the organization to transport a lot of goods needed. With the hardship of any disaster, there are veterans that just had their house flooded or destroyed that need those specialized items to store their family pictures, memorabilia and important paperwork. Having those gift cards allows the teams to purchase containers, rubbermaids and any other needed items to lessen the heartache and stress the victims are undergoing.
Besides outdoor adventures and disaster responses, Sheep Dog loves to get involved within their community throughout the year. One of their biggest fundraisers is the Turkey Trot. Held every Thanksgiving morning, their Turkey Trot for Heroes 5K is an exciting event that garners the full support of local runners, running organizations and our communities. In addition to the traditional 5K run, they have a Wild Gobbler 5K (a 5K with 5 stations of exercises throughout the route dedicated to fallen heroes,) a 1-Mile fun run/walk, and a virtual 5K. Proceeds from the race fund their disaster response and outdoor adventure programs, allowing SDIA to help fellow Sheep Dogs Get Off The Couch and reengage in living a meaningfully productive life with a renewed sense of purpose. Another great fundraising opportunity is their holiday assistance program. This allows them to feed veterans and first responders along with their families. They also provide toys for their children. These small acts of kindness go a long way, especially during the holidays.
For more information about Sheep Dog Impact Assistance please visit www.sheepdogia.org
With all the bad in the world, let’s do our best to spread some good!