Inspiring Resilience in Veterans Lives - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Inspiring Resilience in Veterans Lives

Inspiring Resilience in Veterans Lives

SOF Missions Supports War Veterans in Their Battle of Adjusting Back to Everyday Life

Ebonii Foster woke to find herself in the hospital after suffering an acute seizure.

When the test results came back, everything looked normal. She was “fine” physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually, her cup had run out.

“My nerves were shot. I was beyond burnt out… You cannot pour from an empty cup,” Foster said.

Foster dedicated more than six years of her life as a Logistics Specialist in the Navy. She faced new adversity each year after leaving active duty: the coronavirus pandemic, a painful divorce, Hurricane Ian and homelessness for herself and her two young boys.

Foster knew in that moment at the hospital that something had to change.

SOF Missions: Saving Active-Duty Military, Veterans and First Responders’ Lives

Foster is just one of the 200,000 service men and women who leave the U.S. Armed Forces every year. During this transition from military to civilian life, veterans are often faced with the insurmountable challenges of navigating a new lifestyle.

“You try to put your life together on your own, but you aren’t a professional…You’re a novice in most of the areas that you need to rehabilitate yourself in,” Foster said.

On top of the normal challenges such as finding a new job and affordable housing, Foster was faced with even more difficulties than the average veteran. She needed help but was not sure where to find it.

Foster was scrolling through Beauties and Boots, a Facebook group dedicated to the empowerment of military families. She came across a conversation about SOF Missions and the Be Resilient Clinics. Her interest was immediately captured. She felt the darkness within her growing, and she wanted to find the light again.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for veterans under the age of 45. This distressing fact inspired Dr. Damon Friedman and his wife, Dayna Friedman, founders of the nonprofit organization, SOF Missions.

Damon Friedman is a Retired Special Operations Lieutenant Colonel. Danya Friedman comes from a military family and has experience in the nonprofit sector along with a master’s degree in education.

SOF Missions is doing revolutionary work for active-duty military, veterans and first responders with their “Be Resilient” clinics. The nonprofit hosts up to eight clinics each year, both male and female clinics.

These clinics focus on the psychological, social, physical and spiritual aspects of building a healthy life of purpose and resiliency. There is no charge for the participants or warriors as the clinic calls them, to attend.

A Hands-On Approach

Finding her way to the Be Resilient Clinic was “nothing less than a gift from God,” Foster said.

Although she felt anxious about attending a weeklong clinic with new people, she knew she had to find her bravery for the sake of her mental wellbeing.

The first day, they “hit the ground running,” Foster said.

Each clinic begins by having warriors complete an important intake. It informs the SOF Missions team of each person’s individualized needs.


Though difficult at first, Foster allowed herself to be vulnerable and reveal her inner world which meant sharing her darkest thoughts. However, her SOF Missions team was ready to support her newfound journey.

Veterans, by nature, are resilient. To help them find purpose and resiliency and overcome the challenges of thoughts of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, SOF Missions strategically matches each participant with the providers they need. Those providers include:

  • Physicians
  • Cognitive therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Mental health counselors
  • Strength and conditioning coaches
  • Nutritionists
  • Chiropractors
  • Acupuncturists
  • Massage therapists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Spiritual mentors
  • Social reintegration therapists

No matter what the warrior is experiencing, SOF Missions finds a community of providers to help them succeed.

Life After Clinic

After completing the Be Resilient Clinic, warriors feel transformed.

“You feel like your soul has gotten a tune-up,” Foster said.

Using the app SOF Missions developed, the Galea App, participants from the clinic can stay connected and continue supporting one another.

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“For the first time, I had people that were holding me accountable in such a brilliant way,” Foster said of her fellow warriors.

After years of taking care of everyone else first and losing herself along the way, SOF Missions reminded Foster of her inner power and taught her how to take care of herself.

A Local Hero

After finishing the, Be Resilient Clinic with the support of her new friends, Foster was able to finish a film that she had not been able to complete due to the pandemic. She started her own business, a film production company called Wildseed Entertainment.

This spring, she will host a television camp for kids with the theme “From Consumers to Creators.” Using her logistics and financial background gained in the military, Foster plans to help kids learn how to not only be filmmakers, but to run their own bank accounts, contract royalties and create a living trust.

SOF Missions provided Foster with the tools and resources needed to create and maintain healthy boundaries and ways to prevent burnout. Foster is excited to share and educate the kids on how to do the same.

Get Involved

Natalie Santiago, community relations manager for SOF Missions, has witnessed many warriors’ incredible transformations.

“When warriors show up to the clinic, their faces are dimmed. You can see that there is an internal struggle, but at the end of the one-week intensive clinic at the graduation dinner, it is beautiful,” Santiago said. “The comradery among the warriors is strong. The warriors appear as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders — they are smiling.”

SOF Missions Programs are free to all active-duty military, veterans and first responders. All warriors are welcome to reach out and apply for the Be Resilient Clinics, whether native to Florida or residing out of state. SOF Missions is nationwide.

SOF Missions hosts four major fundraising events annually, including: 

  • SOF Missions sixth annual Destin Gala, April 8, Destin
  • SOF Missions Warrior Golf Classic, May 1, Tampa Palms Country Club, Tampa — currently looking for sponsors for this event as well as teams, individual players and raffle items
  • SOF Missions fifth annual Tampa Social, October, Tampa
  • SOF Missions End of Year Fundraising Campaign, December, online

To help support SOF Missions and their continued fight against the veteran suicide epidemic, consider donating directly to SOF Missions.

For more information on SOF Missions and their events or ways to get involved, email [email protected], call 813-920-0012 or visit SOF Missions, 11928 Sheldon Road, Tampa.

By Simone Flanigan.

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