ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA) -- According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 20 veterans and active-duty service members take their own lives each and every day.
The VA ensures suicide prevention is its highest clinical priority. Even so, the rate of suicide in 2015 was over two times higher among veterans compared to non-veteran adults. New data shows those numbers are not going down.
One organization is giving veterans a unique way to find their purpose again.
"I literally sat in my home 24/7 because I didn't think i fit into society anymore," said Michael Nimmo, Ambassador for Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.
Michael Nimmo served in the Marine Corps for four years.
"Coming back from Fallujah Iraq, I started having symptoms of survivors guilt, depression, a lot of anxiety."
He still suffers from PTSD and says veteran suicide is often not spoken about.
"If a veteran is sitting on the couch, depressed full of anxiety, dealing with all the issues of coming home from serving over in Iraq or Afghanistan a combat situation, dealing with all that stress. That's when they typically sit on the couch and the suicide rate goes up," Nimmo said.
Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, a national non-profit headquartered in Rogers, fills that void of purpose through service opportunities and outdoor adventures.
"That's scuba diving, skydiving, hunting trips, fishing trips. Basically to keep our veterans and first responders up off the couch engaged in life to find that purpose and drive again," Nimmo said.
Its impact extends to families, too.
"Its been something that my family needed, even with my late husband gone, it's been something that we've needed to be apart of," said Jayme Lingo, Outreach Coordinator for Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.
Jayme Lingo's late husband was a veteran service officer. He lost a limb and his PTSD affected those around him.
"When you're the caregiver for someone that is going through something like that, you hurt in a different way that they do you, hurt because they do, and you feel hopeless," Lingo said.
For sheep dogs, helping others is more than a way of life. It's a way of healing.
"Sheep dog impact assistance most definitely saved my life," Nimmo said.
Sheep Dog Impact Assistance also serves first responders and EMS professionals. For more information, visit https://sheepdogia.org/.
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