Sheila L Stephens is the founder and President of The Valkyrie Initiative. Injured as a Special Agent with ATF, she knows something of the places where the issues of first responders and veterans intersect. One important issue is that of identity. When the warrior/first responder can no longer do that which he or she is trained to do, those skills honed under battle and during protection of our streets, those skills by which they are identified, as well as that job/position where they’ve formed bonds unlike any other and worked toward a mission a crisis of identity can occur. The work these men and women do is more than a job, it is a mission, one vitally important to them and one in which they take pride. In the same way that we speak of doctors and nurses as something they are rather than what they do, veterans and first responders see themselves as military and as officers, not doing military or police work. In the same way, they, especially officers, are on 24/7, most required to respond to a felony in progress even on their time off. In this way, they are never far from who they are and what their responsibilities to others happen to be. When taken from them, by injury or release from service/retirement, it can be stressful and unsettling at the least.
Many who seek to help this unique group, concentrate on issues of PTSD, but aside from any PTSD issues which may exist, identity is stripped from a proud and productive group of hero/warriors and must be addressed along with any issues relating to injury or release from service in order for wholeness to be restored. Research has shown that this longing for identity and a mission with which to express it, remains long after a veteran or first responder is no longer able to do the work they loved. The Valkyrie Initiative uses research-based programs and initiatives to help those with the warrior spirit reconnect with who they were born to be, using the personality with which they were born and the skills with which they served our country in new and productive ways at home. We also serve the families of those who serve using education, music, and connections with the community and the services of other nonprofits.
Sheila L. Stephens is a former Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) Special Agent in the state of Alabama, recruited while a police officer in Mountain Brook, Alabama. After an on-the-job injury, she turned toward education, her experience providing a unique platform from which to write, speak, and teach about the people and issues of law enforcement and security.
She is a graduate of The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Alabama State Trooper Academy and the University of Alabama (degree in Special/Hearing Impaired Education). In September 2007, she graduated from Boston University with a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and is completing a PhD in Performance Psychology at Grand Canyon University. Special research interests include biosocial criminology/psychology, violence in all its forms, and trauma disorders such as child abuse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Post Traumatic Growth and Resilience (PTGR) in veterans and first responders.
While a special agent with ATF, she was a member of the Regional/National Response Team, a select group of first responders to arson and explosives scenes, and she participated in undercover operations across the U.S. She has done so in the private sector as a private investigator.
Stephens holds degrees and certificates in the areas of Education, Family/Organizational Systems and Emotional Genetics, Hypnosis, Neurolinguistic Programming, Street Survival, Human Tactical Tracking – urban and rural, and Interviewing/Interrogation, and has taught at the Birmingham Police Academy. She is certified to teach the NRA course, Refuse to Be a Victim. She is also certified to teach Bootstrap Yoga and is finishing the Warriors at Ease Yoga certification, both research-based techniques for stress reduction and physical enhancement in those in protection and enforcement careers. She is a Warriors at Ease Yoga instructor.
A Criminal Justice Professor, she facilitates Terrorism, Victimology, Juvenile Crime, Criminology, Analytical Methods, Forensic Psychology, and Research Methods at Boston University’s online Master’s in Criminal Justice program. Additionally, she is assistant to the Chair of Criminal Justice at Jefferson State College, Shelby Campus, Hoover, AL, where she instructs and develops courses in criminology, criminal justice and private/public security.
She speaks on law enforcement and security issues at organizations and conferences around the country—from universities to writer’s conferences—and contributes to several blogs. She has presented the “CSI Effect” on Real Crime Labs at the New England School of Law, and written an article on the subject that appears in their Law Review. In July 2008, The Everything Private Investigation Book was released and is in print and on Kindle.
Stephens owns a private investigation/security business, SaferSecurity, Inc., specializing in surveillance, background checks and hidden camera technology for police departments, businesses and the monitoring of caregivers. She is also past Associate Editor of The Agent, the newsletter of the National Association of Federal Agents (NAFA).
Stephens incorporated a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, The Valkyrie Initiative, to aid veterans, first responders, and their families in successful transition to civilian life. The Valkyrie Initiative has produced, sponsored by Pacific Records, an album with original songs from combat veterans who share their experiences and stories with the world. It can be found on iTunes, CDBaby, Spotify, Amazon and all major distribution channels. It will be in hard copy and in stores, outlining the stories, background and sacrifices of the artists, many of whom are Purple Heart and other medal/award recipients.
Book her for your next event or workshop. Listen to her as host of Battlefield Home, on The Valkyrie Initiative’s upcoming station, broadcasting from the Foxhole Internet Radio Network. The station offers 24/7 uplifting and patriot music with a mission while building content about networking, security, wellness, and obtaining peak performance in relationships, careers, and life navigation while engaged in this unique field. Security and performance enhancement information by Battlefield Home is also of vital interest to the public.
Finally, she has been elected and duly sworn as 2 nd Vice President, 2019/2020, of the Alabama Private Investigator’s Association (APIA). She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology (SPCP), the FBI’s InfraGard Association, Central Alabama Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), National Association of Investigative Specialists (NAIS), National Association of Missing and Exploited Children (NAMEC), National Council of Investigative and Security Services (NCISS), member of and Certified Instructor for Warriors at Ease, and the authors’ and speakers’ association, The Crime Lab Project.