Homeless, jobless...and often, plagued with depression.
It's no secret that it takes serious resilience when transitioning from military life.
One veteran saw this need firsthand...and did something about it. That's why he's our Serving Those Who Serve September Hero of the Month.
What happens inside “Front Range Cross Fit” is not your ordinary Wednesday workout. In fact, the cross fitters come inside, so they can better deal with the *outside world.
“Like for most of our people, what happens inside here isn't necessarily the reason why they are here,” says owner of Front Range Cross Fit, Skip Miller.
These cross-fitters in training have one thing in common: each of them has served their country. Front Range Cross Fit was one of the very first cross fit gyms to open in the world back in 2006. The first veteran walked in these doors back in 2010.
“He came up to me, still a member here, and said, 'Skip, I don't think you understand what an impact just being here in this environment meant to me in my transition from the military to my civilian life.' And it was one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me,” Miller said.
Miller went home, told his wife, Jodi and that was the start of 'Train to Transition' or 'T3'.
“What TJ had told me was that having that one hour where he knew exactly where he had to be every day,...and he knew he was going to be held accountable in that hour. That felt like the military to him still, right?” Miller said
Civilian life, miller says, is a stark contrast.
“It's like, I have the freedom to do everything...anything..but they do nothing,” Miller said
So that one hour serves as the first building block in regaining that familiar friend, discipline.
“It's the loss of identity and the loss of purpose that causes some of the angst that veterans can feel when they leave the military,” Miller said.
Behind the reps and the sweat, they get some of that back.
“We call it group suffering…There's very few things that get more real than a group suffering together,” Miller said.
Some veterans come for bootcamp, a couple hours a week. Others, choose to be a part of the "indoctrination" program, attending regularly for three weeks, alongside other vets, before assimilating into front range's other classes.
“Because it's not just okay if they are just comfortable around vets. That's not realistic in this world….We've had veterans that were not able to hold jobs down, and now, they have jobs. They are working in the community,” Miller said.
Skip Miller knows this delicate transition from military well: he served from 1989 to 1993 in the 10th Mountain Division .
He served in Panama twice right after the US invasion and in Egypt, on a mission monitoring Egyptian-Israeli peace. Understanding the sacrifice, he never charges the vets - not even a dollar- to attend a class.
“We raise money as we can and we support them whether the money is there or not,” Miller said.
The Fox31 Problem Solvers thought that was pretty noble, and awarded Miller the Serving Those Who Serve September Hero of the Month award.
Miller's longterm goal is to get other cross fit coaches from across the country on board with the "Train to Transition" program.