By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Josh McCain is the founder and president of Big Sky Bravery, a nonprofit organization that helps active-duty servicemen and -women from Special Operations Forces, or SOF, decompress following deployments. He was inspired to start Big Sky Bravery in 2016, when his brother-in-law and personal hero Jeremy Keller returned from his 14th deployment.
On Jan. 27, EBS Editor-in-Chief Joseph T. O’Connor sat down with McCain and Keller to kick off the Big Sky Ideas Festival and talk about Big Sky Bravery.
McCain said that after growing up in Three Forks, Montana he and his wife moved to New York City to live the big-city dream. After hitting a slump, McCain came up with the idea for Big Sky Bravery, inspired by Keller, and he and his wife picked up their lives and moved to Bozeman to start Big Sky Bravery.
Seeing a gap in service for active-duty members of the armed forces and a plethora of nonprofits dedicated to veterans, McCain got to work. While he acknowledges that helping veterans is critical, he also said that helping men and women while they are in active-duty status can prevent mental illness and suicide once they retire as veterans.
“I think it’s time to be proactive,” McCain said. “We need doers more than thinkers.”
Keller served in the American Armed Forces and is a decorated U.S. Army Ranger with a total of 18 deployments outside of training under his belt. When McCain called him to propose the idea for the nonprofit, Keller said it would make a huge difference.
“Big Sky Bravery is changing lives and changing marriages,” Keller said. “I’m honored to be the impetus behind it, but it’s bigger than one person.”
Big Sky Bravery partners with among the most elite units in the U.S. Armed Forces and runs weeklong programs, or Task Forces, to help servicemembers decompress and heal. McCain explained that the organization designs its programs around the idea of “freedom of thought,” which has task force members completing activities that require total focus and execution.
McCain pointed to numerous testimonials from task force participants who benefited immensely and whose lives have been changed as a result of Big Sky Bravery’s programming.
“We’re giving people a new sense of hope, peace and restoration for their future,” he said.