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The bond between veterans and CrossFit is an emotional connection that materializes through the physical environment built inside every box across the country. There is a reason that a cookie-cutter gym membership does not work for so many veterans after we step away from the military. The physical side of fitness is not enough to keep us engaged. We need more. We need the brother/sisterhood that we experienced in our military careers. Many of us use that bond as motivation to get physically fit. What we do not recognize is the influence it has over our mental health as well.
We believe that support is more than a yellow ribbon. We know that real support means giving veterans the tools and opportunities to reclaim their happiness and their respective lives.
Our entire military career is built on the foundation that the people around us are our family. We stumble, and our battle-buddy will be right there to pick us up. We work in the same environment, eat the same crappy meals together, and for many of us we patrol(led) the same foreign streets with no one but our brothers and sisters watching our back. The building of this military family is what keeps America’s military functioning at the incredibly hard pace that it has been maintaining over the past decade. Then as the time to leave the military nears, that family — and that support system — is removed from our lives.
This is where the picture of the stereotypical Veteran begins to form. Once we get home, the clothes start looking a little tighter, and we start to drink a little more. The close-knit family on whom we have depended for the past few years is no longer there to get us up and moving for PT. We lack the people to support us, but what many of us do not realize we are missing is the feeling of what it is like to need others to need us. This is where CrossFit comes in.
There are pictures, memes, and articles comparing fitness to war. They lead us to believe that the one last rep on back squat is comparable to an 18-hour patrol mission. This is not the void that Crossfit can fill for a veteran, mainly because they are not the same.
What we need is someone to ask why we were not in class yesterday. We need to know that while that WOD may have been terrible, it was something that we did together.
Where fitness and war cross paths is in simply doing something that you did not think possible before. We want to build that foundation of family through physical hardship again. Sound familiar? Hopefully it sounds like the environment of your box!
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