Shield of Faith (SOF) Missions is a non-profit organization serving our Nation’s warriors. The purpose of SOF Missions is to combat the veteran suicide crisis by restoring purpose, resiliency, and life after service. SOF Missions was founded in 2011 by Dr. Damon Friedman, an Air Force Special Operator who served four combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The scars of war took a huge toll on Friedman physically, psychologically, mentally, and spiritually. He experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS) which made him question his own purpose and existence, putting him on a path of self-destruction and self-defeat. For a long time, he didn’t know he was struggling, and he didn’t ask for help, like so many of our brave warriors today. But eventually, he was blessed to get specialized care outside of the military and he had a moment of clarity. He wanted to figure out a way to help each and every veteran suffering like he was and help them find their purpose in life. He wanted to help save others from themselves, from a path of self-destruction.
Today, more than 2.7 million men and women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight on terrorism. Friedman said, unfortunately for many, the rigors of combat and the challenges of military life take a toll on their overall health. The suicide rate among veterans has reached drastic proportions. The Department of Veterans Affairs Suicide Data Report from 2019 states that over 20 veterans take their lives every day and the suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults. “Today, more than ever, with all the issues facing our world and the scars from combat, there are so many veterans suffering in isolated silence. They live in fear and are either too strong-willed to ask for help or they just don’t know where to turn,” said Friedman. “When our veterans are struggling, we want to be there to bridge the gap, whatever the challenges. If you’re afraid, we want you to know you aren’t alone.”
SOF Missions has a first-of-its-kind holistic paradigm of care, called The Resiliency Project, provided wherever the veteran is located. It’s a four-component program that exists to combat PTS and put warriors on a path of wellness. Warriors who apply and are accepted into the program receive individualized programs based on specific need. The program is fully funded by private donors and is provided at no-cost to all veterans. “What that means is, veterans don’t have to come to us to get the care that they need, we go to them. We provide a customized treatment solution with our national network of partners,” said Friedman.
In 2019, SOF Missions served 20 warriors in The Resiliency Project, 60 groups used our veteran resources, 275 veterans received care and 10,000 people were present at 19 speaking engagements and events across the country. In 2020, SOF Missions has a goal to increase their impact five-fold, which will provide 100 warriors with full-spectrum care and more than 1,400 warriors will receive connect care across the Nation. “No matter what you’re dealing with, you can always reach out for help. SOF is here to encourage you, help you heal and help you understand you are never alone. You are worth it. You have a purpose in life, and SOF Missions is here to help you get there. Please reach out if you need help,” said Friedman.
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