WarriorWOD: increasing accessibility for physical and mental fitness among combat veterans


Combat veterans have many needs during and after service to our country; however, access to resources to help their physical and mental wellbeing can be challenging to find. WarriorWOD Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit foundation providing healing mental and physical wounds from combat through fitness. Our program involves helping veterans recover from their invisible wounds, including but not limited to Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), MST, and thoughts of suicide. WarriorWOD programs prioritize exercise, physical fitness, and nutrition as a leading prescription in veterans’ recovery from PTS and other invisible wounds.


The prevalence of “invisible wounds” among the veteran population is growing, and the lack of a scar doesn’t make mental health concerns any less critical. One in five veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan experience post-traumatic stress or major depression, but only half of those who need treatment seek medical help. Severe mental health challenges connected to military services such as depression, PTS, and anxiety have direct ties to substance abuse and homelessness and impact the individuals and their families. Despite a $1 billion federal investment in prevention efforts between 2013 and 2019, suicide rates for veterans are as high as ever.


Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than nonveterans, and more than 6,100 veterans die annually by suicide. Nearly two-thirds of them had not received care recently through the Veterans Health Administration.


The standard prescription for PTS by the Veterans Affairs system is antidepressants and brief periods of therapy. However, veteran PTSD, employment, and suicide statistics demonstrate that mental and physical health is not accessible for veterans and their families through pharmaceutical and traditional VA methods.


“When a veteran comes back home, they need encouragement and support,” Warrior WOD CEO and Executive Director Phil Palmer said. “We offer specialized programs to give veterans the tools they need to transition back into society with physical and mental programs.”


WarriorWOD addresses these gaps in veterans’ mental health care through exercise, nutrition, and mentorship in the recovery of PTS for veterans. Using our proposed solutions, we hope the veterans achieve the following outcomes: improvement of quality of life, reduction of PTS symptoms, improved social and occupational functioning, improved self-worth, improved motivation, and improved confidence.


As by-products of our programs, we will reduce PTS symptoms, suicide, and obesity in veterans. Further, we will reduce the dependency on VA-prescribed antidepressants and self-prescribed alcohol and illegal drugs.


Palmer is a Marine Corps Veteran with multiple deployments to Iraq and recipient of a Purple Heart along with 2 Commendation Medals with Valor. In 2013, Palmer was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and diagnosed with PTSD along with a TBI. Palmer credits fitness for helping him cope and wants to help other veterans improve their health.


“Investing in your physical and mental health is critical and crucial for your wellbeing,” Palmer said. “The wounds aren’t just on the outside. There are invisible wounds that come with combat. We address all of those through our fitness program to empower our veterans.”


Warrior WOD is increasing access to services design for veterans and their recovery. Some include gym and fitness class memberships, home gym equipment, nutrition coaching, and therapy. Grants are available.


In addition to hosting local, regional, and online fitness events, Warrior WOD helps people look good while supporting veterans. People can purchase gear or donate to supper Warrior WOD’s mission. All proceeds go to veteran fitness programs to help heal the mental and physical wounds of combat.


For more information about Warrior WOD and their efforts to improve the lives of those who served our nation in combat, visit https://warriorwod.org. Donations can be made at https://warriorwod.org/donate.


ABOUT WARRIOR WOD:

Warrior WOD prioritizes veterans’ fitness as a leading prescription of the mental and physical wounds of combat, providing them the quality of life they have earned through services for our country. Warrior WOD is committed to reducing the impact of both mental and physical wounds of veterans through fitness programs to empower our veterans to realize their full potential, confidence, and self-worth.


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