MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) – On average, 22 military veterans commit suicide each day, but a few vets are on a mission to change that by traveling to gyms across the country, building comradery through fitness.
The non-profit, Lift for the 22, named for the 22 vets that commit suicide each day, works to connect veterans to each other and to local resources.
Lift for the 22 made a stop at Crossfit No Slack in Murrells Inlet during their national tour Saturday. There, Dan Newberry, fitness director for Lift for the 22, coached a free workout class for vets.
As an Army veteran, Newberry found himself struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression after returning home from serving overseas.
“When I first got out of the military, I felt that my identity as a service member was no more, so I really didn’t know where I fit in within our community,“ Newberry said.
That’s when he turned to fitness and found his purpose again.
Using the skills he learned in the military, discipline, leadership and drive, Newberry now helps other veterans find their purpose too through Lift for the 22.
“I’ve seen more inclusion, with the veterans, sometimes when we get out, we separate ourselves from everything, and offering a place with like-minded individuals, a community environment, it kind of brings back that feeling we had when we were in the service with brotherhood and comradery,“ Newberry said.
Dennis Wright, co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of Lift for the 22 and a Marine veteran, has seen the program’s impact firsthand.
“Multiple veterans come to us and tell us this program has literally saved their life. People who thought they were never gonna have that bond again, people that thought they were never gonna feel like they were a part of something again, like they were lost, like they were alone,“ Wright said.
Wright says fitness has given him a purpose too.
“Much like combat does, fitness bonds you. You sweat together, you put out effort together, so we chose fitness because not only is it a healthy avenue for depression, but it also bonds you, and what we’re trying to do is recreate that bond we had when we were in (the service), in the civilian world,“ Wright said.
To learn more about Lift for the 22, click here.