Friday, July 6, 2012

July 4th "21 Guns" WOD for Warriors : NEVER FORGET!!!!

I have been stationed in the CENLA community for the last 13 years, coming and going for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as an overseas tour in Korea. While I was gone my family resided in Alexandria. When I was not overseas I was stationed at FT. Polk. Even though there is a lot of support for the military in the local communities, I was always struck by the lack of connectivity between the FT. Polk and Alexandria communities.

 Enter William Albritton,Trayce Snow and Jeff Prejean. All three are Physical Fitness MANIACS (that is a good thing)  and society needs more people like this encouraging people to get OFF THE COUCH!!!!!

Jeff and Trayce at the opening ceremony

William Albritton is a co-owner of  Crossfit Alexandria and big supporter of the military community. Trayce live is Alexandria, is a member of the Crossfit Alexandria family and huge supporter of Team RWB. Her son Ben is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and her brother Jon Howerton is a Colonel in the United States Army who deployed to Iraq three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jeff is a coach at Crossfit Alexandria and is involved in all sort so activities and events promoting physical fitness. He works with local athletes to improve their performance as well. Jeff is a huge supporter of the military.

In June I met with all of them about doing a event to connect community members , veterans and active duty military in the area.  On Wednesday July 4th, a simple call to action brought together two inspiring groups of people - Team Red, White, and Blue  and the  Crossfit Alexandria  family , and together they executed the “21 Guns WOD (Workout of the Day)  for Warriors” workout at Crossfit Alexandria.

Writing out the WOD

"21 Guns - A Memorial Salute"

Partner #1:

21 Pull-ups

21 Burpee Box Jumps
21 Firemans Carry Back Squat 

21 Burpee Box Jumps

21 Pull-Ups

Partner #2 executes

Partner #1 again

Before  the first heat kicked off I explained the significance of the "21 Guns" workout:

The 21 reps signify a 21 gun salute, the 5 exercises are one for each Branch of the Military. Executing with a Partner signifies the bonds we aim to create between our Nation's Warriors and the communities they grow in and return to, and doing it twice reflects the fact that we honor both the living and the deceased. 

This was a great event for both RWB and Crossfit.  Several veterans and active duty soldiers were present for the workout as well as a large number of community members. The shared experience of getting physically smoked  executing the WOD and the resulting interactions between community members and veterans, help the veterans identify with the community and to meet people, therefore building relationships that will continue to grow in the future and allow veterans to grow within the community.

Crossfit Family and Team RWB

Three veterans representing Vietnam, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)

with Erik

Jeff, me, and Paul


Trayce and her brother, COL Jon Howerton executing the pull-up portion of the WOD

Box Jump Burpees

Firemans Carry Squats

This was also a reunion of sorts for me. Two of my good friends showed up to participate in the WOD.

Lisa, in the picture with me on the left,  participated in my physical fitness bootcamp named “HOOAH Camp” in the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006. During HOOAH Camp we would do all the workouts outside in order to build mental discipline and toughness. She and I were joking about the time where it was around 25 degrees and the class was low crawling through the icy mud on the football field. It was a great workout, or at least I thought so, but is a great example of the bond formed over shared, challenging experiences.

I have been friends with Mitzi (pictured with me on the right and mentioned in a previous blog post ) for over ten years. We used to do triathlons together. We had a great group of people who would mount up every weekend and go to a different triathlon somewhere in Louisiana.  Our friendship is another great example of friendships built through physical fitness and shared experiences.

Both these friends were critical to my recovery after I had surgery due to injuries from my tour in Iraq.  While I was in the recovery  phase they were both very encouraging of me and supported me. It did not matter that I was not a fast runner anymore; all that mattered was that I was out there CRUSHING IT with them. Being out there with other community members sharing an experience helped me identify with them and the rest of the community. It was one HUGE step on the road to recovery.

Hopefully those two short examples demonstrated that strong, lasting relationships  can be built through shared experiences like physical fitness. These types of relationships build communities and when community members reach out and invite people in, such as veterans, it can change lives for the better.

The benefits of exercise are well known and it is through exercise and community events like the one with Crossfit Alexandria,  that Team RWB aims to enhance the reintegration of veterans back into civilian life.  Here is a great blog post in Psychology Today about the benefits of exercise as a team for veterans and community members:



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