BY BTL STAFF
Ann Arbor – Fitness can play an important role in helping disabled veterans deal with the psychological and physiological effects that a war-related injury can have on them.
Take Bobby Body of St. Johns, Michigan, for example. He was an Army Airborne infantryman injured in February 2006 by an improvised explosive device in Iraq. The explosion severely injured his left side and lead to his evacuation back to the states, where he would later be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. After being medically retired from the Army in 2009, and undergoing numerous surgeries, Body’s left leg was ultimately amputated above the knee in 2013.
His journey toward recovery was documented by Disabled American Veterans, founded in 1921 as an advocacy and direct service organization that helps disabled service members receive the benefits they are entitled to by law.
While recovering from his amputation at the Ann Arbor Veterans Healthcare System’s amputee rehabilitation clinic, Body saw how long and arduous recovery could be, often lasting months. It was a timeline he did not want to endure. Through his positive attitude and can-do spirit, Body walked out of the clinic in less than seven weeks. Doctors and therapists at the Ann Arbor VA took notice of Body’s unique mental and physical abilities during his recovery and recruited him to become a counselor to other veterans who either had PTSD or recent amputations.
Using exercise as a healthy outlet, Body propelled himself into the world of powerlifting, winning a national tournament and placing in multiple World Championships against non-disabled competitors.
DAV National Commander Moses A. McIntosh, Jr. explained that Body is a shining example of everything that is good about our nation and its veterans, which is why he was selected as the 2016 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.
The compassion he shows for other veterans and his work to help them find success is truly the hallmark of this award, and we’re very proud of what he’s doing for this community, McIntosh said.
Many veterans are permanently physically limited due to their injuries and medical conditions. In spite of this, many are still interested in keeping in shape as best they can, healing themselves through exercise.
Local civilians can show support by exercising at the day-long Cardio Relay event to benefit the Michigan Department of DAV from 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Oct. 14 at the Better Living Fitness Center at 834B Phoenix Drive in Ann Arbor.
The goal is to raise $10,000 for disabled vets living in Michigan. During the event, participants are invited to sign up to work out for 15-minute time slots on one of Better Living Fitness Centers’ eight cardio machines, which include two stationary bicycles, three elliptical machines and a treadmill. Event participants are encouraged to make a donation onsite to DAV in exchange for their workout.
Founder Mark Thiesmeyer called DAV a perfect organization for this new facility’s first charity event in partnership with Tortoise and Hare Running and Fitness Center in Ann Arbor, and Between The Lines in Livonia.
“One of my dreams for the fitness center is to have it be a place that benefits the entire community,” he said.
“At the same time, Disabled American Veterans is a fantastic organization that makes sure our veterans receive the benefits that they have earned and deserve.”
Access Benefits for Disabled Vets
The veteran population in Michigan is large, with around 634,000 representing almost nine percent of the state’s total adult population according to a 2013 Michigan Veterans Workforce Study. An estimated one in five of those veterans self-report one or more disabilities.
Many disabled service members who qualify for veteran benefits are not using them. Often times they don’t know if they’re eligible or how to access them.
Veterans who qualify for a 100-percent disability rating from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs are entitled to additional benefits not afforded to other veterans. Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to veterans who are at least 10 percent disabled because of injuries or diseases that were incurred in or aggravated during active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training. A disability can apply to physical conditions, such as a chronic knee condition, as well as a mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
With almost 1,300 chapters and 1.3 million members across the country, DAV provides more than 700,000 rides for veterans attending medical appointments and assists veterans with more than 300,000 benefit claims annually. In 2015, DAV helped attain more than $4 billion in new and retroactive benefits to care for veterans, their families and survivors. DAV is also a leader in “connecting veterans with meaningful employment, hosting job fairs and providing resources to ensure they have the opportunity to participate in the American Dream their sacrifices have made possible.”
For more information or to register for the charity event, contact the center at 734-747-0123 or email email@example.com. To connect with the DAV in Michigan, visit their website at http://www.mi-dav.org/.