September 11th started “the war on terror” in the Middle East -- and left a new generation of veterans fighting their own battle at home.
Troy Peterson’s PTSD and addiction nearly cost him his life in 2015. "I took a bottle of pain killers. I tried to overdose. I attempted suicide."
Last year Troy told us how CrossFit helped him change his life. The response was overwhelming. The VA reached out to him, and so did local gym owners. The idea for a fitness-based non-profit for veterans started taking shape. “We thought, let’s get them in the gym and empower them," says Troy, "help them get confidence back and say, look what you’ve done through your effort."
Free and discounted gym memberships help get veterans in the door and the support system “Valor Fit” provides keeps them coming back. "There’s a battle buddy system in the military," Troy explains, "Well now there’s a battle buddy outside the military."
Jordan Pizinger remembers the day he met Troy. "He picked me up on July 2nd from the VA," he nods, "He’s the one that actually picked me up and him just doing that said a lot to me." What it says to the marine veteran is that someone cares about his service and truly understands the invisible scars he has because of it. "People find comfort in a bottle and if you don’t know there are people out there you can’t seek them out, especially when you’re in a dark spot."
Troy is pulling Jordan out of the dark with the help of people like personal trainer Rodney Filer. "Most people in fitness want to help other people, it’s what we do," says Filer, "So why not help our veterans who lay down their lives."
Rodney got involved thanks to Troy’s cousin - yoga instructor Bradie Weeter. "I carried him around, and he had the same humor he has today and love and zest for life," she says.
It was that zest Troy lost when he returned from Iraq . “It hit really hard that he was in pain and suffering and out of control," Bradie says through tears, "It’s kind of odd…we were both going through some rough things and we relied on each other for that time."
Now they’re creating a network veterans like Jordan can rely on, a battle buddy system for the real world. “I want to show you what you can do because that’s what people did for me. Jordan’s doing great," says an emotional Troy, "he’s taken his life back, and to watch somebody do that through simply connecting people – is beautiful.”