Save The Sheepdog Foundation

Suicide Prevention for Veterans and First Responders

Veterans

Law Enforcement Officers

Fire Fighters

EMS

The Facts

Veterans and First Responders (Law Enforcement, Firefighters, and EMS) are committing suicide at an epidemic level. Statistics show that 20 veterans and estimated 1-10 first responders (including former first responders) are killing themselves, every day. For every 1 suicide, there are another 25 attempts.

  • Post Traumatic Stress 80% 80%
  • Depression 60% 60%
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries 40% 40%
  • Substance Abuse 50% 50%

There are many factors attributed to these suicides, to include PTSD, depression, TBI, substance abuse, and others. Research shows that suicide is preventable. It’s not an accident. With dedicated research, therapy, and training, we can significantly reduce the number of suicides each year.  If we save just 1 sheepdog, then it’s worth it…but we want to save as many as we can. With YOUR help, we can find solutions.  Our Sheepdog Ranch will be a one of a kind research and therapy center in the United States.

There are Sheep, There are Wolves, and There are Sheepdogs

We use the term “Sheepdogs” to describe veterans and first responders. The term is attributed to an excerpt from the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. The full excerpt can be found by clicking HERE.

Our Story

The Save The Sheepdog Foundation was created by a group of military veterans and current/former first responders out of frustration. We all had grown tired of hearing, all too often, that another veteran, law enforcement officer, firefighter or EMS personnel had committed suicide. All of us had friends, or friends of friends, that had taken their own life. We decided to take action.

We looked for an organization that was focused on solving this problem, for this group of people, whom we call Sheepdogs. We couldn’t find it.  We found plenty of nonprofits and for-profit companies that were focused on “awareness” and well meaning organizations that had created “retreats” for folks that were suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other issues. We found research organizations, academic and otherwise, that were focusing on one subset of the Sheepdog community. But, we couldn’t find one single organization that was solely focused on funding research and providing therapy for the entire Sheepdog community. We believe that there is a common thread among veterans and first responders that leads to the epidemic level of suicides and suicide attempts.

We are building a research and therapy center that will bring together professionals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, with a common focus, that is finding real solutions to this epidemic. We will take theory to practice, not just fund research for the sake of adding to the body of knowledge of suicide prevention. We want to find existing tools, build new tools, and deploy them at scale. We know we won’t do this alone and are prepared to partner with other organizations, private or public, to meet the mission: stop sheepdog suicides.

There are at too many Sheepdogs committing suicide each day in the United States. We want to make that number 0, but if we only save 1, then it is all worth it.

We have members of our initial board of directors in place. They are from all sectors of the sheepdog community (local, state, federal law enforcement, firefighters, EMS and veterans). We’ll be adding them to the website soon.

We are open to recruiting others for the ongoing board of directors, if you have particular experience in non-profits, fundraising, or veteran/first responder issues. If you are interested, then please email at info @ savethesheepdog.org.

Below you can see the group of initial founders of the organization. Most of them are veterans, and all are male. Please know that our focus is on all members of the sheepdog community; brothers and sisters, first responders and veterans alike. Yes, we are a new organization. Yes, we are very optimistic in our goals. But we are sheepdogs, and we are up for this challenge. You are either part of the problem, or part of the solution. We are choosing the latter.

In this family, no one fights alone.

Experience

Character

Vision

The Founders

Conan Bruce

Conan Bruce

Co-Founder

Conan is a retired federal law enforcement officer with over twenty-eight years of government and military service. His commitment to the foundation comes from losing multiple friends and peers over the years to suicide, from both military service members and first responders.

Learn More

Conan served as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army for 18 years (active duty and reserves) and attained the rank of Sergeant First Class. After deploying to Iraq in 2003, he received a direct commission as a Military Intelligence officer and still serves in the U.S. Army Reserves. He has served on multiple military deployments to Central America, Haiti, the Balkans, and the Middle East.

Conan was a local police officer in Arkansas after finishing his first enlistment, working in multiple assignments to include patrol officer, narcotics investigator and bike patrol. He became a Federal Air Marshal just after 9/11, recruited after returning to active duty in the Army, and retired as a Supervisory Federal Air Marshal in the Washington, D.C. area where he lives with his two youngest daughters.

He is proud to continue his public service by working to find solutions to the Sheepdog suicide epidemic.

John A. Smith III

John A. Smith III

Co-Founder

John is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with over 20 years of military and government service. His drive, compassion, and fervent desire to change the way we approach suicide among veterans and first responders stems from losing several brothers and sisters he has served with over the years.

Learn More

His most recent loss of a close friend in August of 2017 has driven him to take on this epidemic head on.

John grew up around the military his entire life, with a father in the US Air Force (Aircraft Maintenance) and a Stepfather in the US Army (Military Police). He knew that someday he would join the small fraternity of men and woman who believe in something greater than themselves. John served multiple enlistments as a soldier with a deployment to Iraq in 2003.

John has admiration and respect for law enforcement and first responders. He stepfather was not only a police officer in the Army, but he was a deputy at the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office in Montana.

He is anxious, determined, and ready to find lasting solutions to prevent suicides in the Sheepdogs community.

Rich Murphy

Rich Murphy

Co-Founder

Rich is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

David Han

David Han

Co-Founder

David is an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran with both the United States Marine Corps and United States Navy with over 20 years of government and military service. He is committed to the cause of preventing loss of military service members and first responders to suicide.

Learn More

David initially enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for six years before reenlisting in the United States Navy Reserve in 2007. He has deployed twice to the Middle East and continues to serve in overseas assignments augmenting Active Duty units.

David knew from an early age of his calling for military service. His greatest influences were from two uncles that served in uniform; one whom enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and the other retiring from the United States Navy as a Lieutenant Commander.

It was on the final week prior the graduating Marine Corps Recruit Training that David found out his best friend had committed suicide. Not having the opportunity to see the signs and prevent it happening committed David to the cause of suicide prevention.

He is excited to be an active participate in preventing the unnecessary loss of Sheepdogs.

Want to help?