Our Founder’s Story
Tempa Sherrill is the spouse of Marine Corps and Army Reserves veteran, AJ Sherrill, who served in Afghanistan during 2008-2009 performing tactical psychological operations. When deployed AJ had also served 18 years as a police officer. When he returned home after being away 15 months, his spouse and three children knew something was wrong. This was not the man that went over to fight for our country. Someone else came home. He only had two weeks of leave before returning to his police duties in Dallas and it took six months for the family to convince him to go to the VA for help. His psychiatrist cared for his welfare and put him on medication to help relieve his symptoms. Group counseling was offered, but no other counseling was available for the family. Many issues were experienced by the family in this post-war battle including extreme anger, rage, emotional detachment, memory loss, anxiety and depression. After a year-long struggle, the VA was able to get AJ into individual therapy. His anxiety was so overwhelming that group therapy was not an option. The family struggled to find community counselors who understood the uniqueness of the military culture or deployment experience. Getting help seemed hopeless at times. Tempa and her children had no idea how to deal with this new reality and the loss of the husband and father they once knew. Through her own counseling and struggle, Tempa felt a call for action. She left an 18-year teaching career to pursue her masters in counseling and psychology with the dream of helping veterans and families.
Three years into the process, AJ lost his career as a police officer when his employer found out he had a posttraumatic stress diagnosis. He was terminated. This was a huge setback for AJ and the family as a whole, but Tempa was determined more then than ever to continue her mission. In 2012, she developed a program for veterans and families at another nonprofit, which began the journey towards her dream. Tempa and AJ lost thousands of dollars of income in this process and were financially devastated, but the mission continued. After six years of therapy, family healing, and a new career for AJ, he chose to donate his police retirement funds to help Tempa launch Stay The Course Veteran Services, in order to further her dream and the mission to serve those who have sacrificed so much. As the spouse of not only a veteran, but a police officer, she understands first-hand the difficulties public servants experience and the invisible wounds that so often are ignored due to the stigma of getting help. She is also aware of the trauma that family members endure and the importance of healing for the family.