WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — At a gym in Wheat Ridge on Saturday, a group of veterans gathered for a different kind of battle.
It is part of their fight to stop suicide among U.S. combat veterans.
The Military Muscle Foundation says 22 vets kill themselves every day. It takes every bit of strength, fortitude and determination to dead lift hundreds of pounds.
Especially if all you have is one arm.
“You guys don’t know, but I wouldn’t be here today without you guys,” veteran Jonathan Lopez said.
Severe depression became a real-life struggle for Lopez after leaving the military. The same was true for former marine Kirstie Ennis, who lost a leg while serving.
“The wounds that were the worse for me weren’t the physical ones. They were the invisible injuries,” Ennis said. “They were the most debilitating. Unfortunately, after the one-year anniversary of being hurt, I actually tried taking my own life.”
Because so many others are at risk, the Military Muscle Foundation is raising money through events like these, to help vets battling post-traumatic stress disorder and thoughts of suicide.
The goal is to rehab the mind and body through fitness.
“My passion is what you guys are doing right here,” said Earl Granville, whose leg was blown off during combat. “Fitness was a large part of my life and it just built more and more and more and once I changed my own attitude, I’m living a healthier life again.”
Military Muscle says there are indications the number of suicides committed by veterans is dropping.
Lopez and his crew are convinced their blood, sweat and tears are making a difference.
“You guys were with me and you guys inspire me to keep going forward,” Lopez said.