SOF Missons and the Unseen Wounds of War


By Doug Stauffer

Almost every hour, one U.S. veteran commits suicide!

SOF Missions is a non-profit organization that assists and supports active duty and veteran Special Operations Forces (SOF) and their families. Dr. Damon Friedman, a former Special Forces operator, founded the organization when he recognized the need for a support system within the SOF community.

Damon served on active duty for twenty years—five in the Marine Corps and 15 in the Air Force’s special warfare. Damon tells his story of almost becoming a statistic, but some incredible people stepped in to help him. He believed it was his turn to help others. So, his wife, Dayna, and he started SOF Missions in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2011. SOF Missions aims to empower America’s warriors to find purpose and be resilient.

SOF Missions helps the battle brother, America’s true heroes, find freedom through post-traumatic growth. Many veterans feel hopeless and without purpose, with an inability to reconnect. Damon said, “We are trying to help them to not only get to a better state mentality but to be the best version of themselves.” The program focuses on a whole health, interdisciplinary model. They treat mild traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, insomnia, post-traumatic stress and chronic stress. He continued, “Helping our warriors is a completely systematic approach.”

The Resiliency Project is a four-pillar methodology project: psychological, physical, spiritual and social wellness. “We believe that humans are made up of mind, body, and soul, and our Creator is the designer of the universe. One of the biggest challenges in America is that people do not really know their purpose.” SOF Missions purposes to help those in the program to find their purpose in life. “Our veterans are the treasure of America called upon to change the world for good, to make this world a better place.”

The keynote speaker for this year’s banquet was 37-year veteran Marine Corps Major General James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. General Hartsell pointed out that since 9-11, nearly four million Americans have raised their right hand to defend our Constitution and country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Half of those went to war—two million. He stated, “Those who went to war were exposed to moral injury. They were exposed to things they would not have been exposed to in a normal life.”
Sof Dsc 7320He quoted, “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers,” which emphasizes that all soldiers are wounded in some way, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. The unseen wounds are the least treated but still have a lasting impact on their lives.

Gen. Hartsell talked passionately about everyone’s “life load” and the need to balance military, family and employment life. SOF Missions helps warriors carry the burdens of life load. Everyone has these burdens, and getting out of balance creates trouble. SOF Missions helps veterans balance the psychological, social, physical and spiritual domains. He learned through experience that psychological trauma is the hardest to keep in balance.

Bob Conrad is a 25-year Army Veteran and a local representative with SOF Missions. Bob says, “Attitude-Behavior-Results! It starts with the choice of commitment to impact the lives of our extended Veteran Community, to reduce suicide, increase resiliency and guide others to thriving, not just surviving! In a purpose-driven organization, that’s called commitment!” Bob has been with SOF for six years in Donor and Strategy Development with a team led by Sherrie Hayes, Kristi Beckman and Annette Beard. The Tampa-based HQ worked hard to increase the passion and participation from 180 in 2022 to 240 supporters in 2023! The Gala is a premier event along the Emerald Coast.

The Gala pays tribute to the brave men and women who fight and sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy. We must emphasize the importance of acknowledging and honoring our heroes, recognizing the responsibility that comes with freedom, and understanding the true meaning of courage. We must never forget or minimize the sacrifices made by our soldiers in service to this country. Their sacrifices should inspire future generations to strive for greatness. We owe it to our heroes to remember and honor their legacy, to appreciate the liberties they secured for us, and to continue to protect and defend those freedoms for future generations.

SOF Missions relies on the support of donors and volunteers to carry out its mission. A local Regional Support Team can meet with individuals, organizations, and potential sponsors to expand the SOF MISSION passion, commitment and service to our warrior community. Bob Conrad would be happy to meet with anyone wanting to know more about SOF Missions, the RST, and how they might be a part of a fantastic mission and purpose-driven team. For more information, check out