Sacred Mountain Retreat Center (SMRC), just outside Deadwood, South Dakota in the beautiful Black Hills, is a haven for Veterans and First Responders who are suffering from PTSD or trauma, and Gold Star families. SMRC seeks to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s wounded. They are a catalyst for positive change in the lives of these heroes and help to eliminate the noise of everyday life in the tranquil, wooded retreat.
Healing at SMRC is encouraged through exposure to nature, alternative healing methods, hands-on work and open communication with brothers and sisters in arms. This includes equine therapy in which participants learn to overcome fear and rejection by working with horses. Retreat members also work with their hands to create blacksmith-quality knives and leather sheaths to build esteem. Helping with meal preparation creates an atmosphere of camaraderie and is relaxing. Daily body healing sessions vary with options of yoga, massage, cryotherapy, and use of the infrared sauna to improve circulation and immunity. This all-inclusive experience is designed to build trust, reduce anxiety, and strengthen coping mechanisms.
SMRC offers eight comfortable bedrooms with private baths, a game room, a large great room with wood-burning fireplace and multiple seating arrangements for both intimate and large-group conversations and a dining room that provides daily home cooked meals. Since the center opened in 2019, 130 men and women from around the country have come to SMRC to experience the no-cost, seven-day program. Transportation, lodging and food expenses are covered by charitable donations from people like you, to help heal our heroes. Each program has on-site mentors who have either a background in the military or as a first responder and have been through the program themselves. Their experience at SMRC was life-changing and as a way of giving back, they volunteer at the retreat to help others.
“It’s difficult to truly understand what these men and women go through when they are in a war or in training. Injuries, both mental and physical, do not just happen on a battlefield,” Jerrid Geving, founder and director or SMRC, said. “We not only hear stories from soldiers with amputated limbs and those suffering from PTSD, but from law enforcement and first responders dealing with job burnout. For each of them, they are in an environment that isn’t always healthy on a day-to-day basis. For many of them, that oftentimes results in an unhealthy situation every day.”
“The suicide rate in Veterans and First Responders is so high. By developing a retreat center, we are letting them come and decompress and learn that it’s okay to ask for help. They aren’t the only ones who are fighting and there are people out there who want to help,” Geving says about the retreat center.
A review board selects the participants from online applications. “All of our mentors, board members and review panel know firsthand what these individuals are experiencing,” Geving said.
With additional fundraising, Geving hopes to ultimately offer two retreats per month. To help achieve this goal, the organization has initiated a Got Your Six fundraising campaign to encourage supporters to donate $6 on the 6th of each month at www.6onthe6th.org. Geving explains, “$6 per month is a small contribution that can make a big difference. What does $6 buy you? A latte? A cocktail? A burger? Imagine if thousands of people spent $6 one time per month to help our heroes.”
Thus far, the results have been life-changing for the heroes who go through the program. Geving hopes the program continues to grow and will go on saving lives, saving jobs and saving marriages.