Charitable foundation helps wounded combat veterans return to healthy fitness regimes

Wendy Geller
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

A regular fitness regime is extremely beneficial to overall wellbeing. And now, a special organization is bringing workouts — along with hope — to some of those who need it the most: wounded combat veterans.

“We’ve been serving our combat veterans for 10 years now,” Lynn Coffland, founder of Catch a Lift and sister of late army veteran Chris Coffland, explained to Fox & Friends on Veteran’s Day. “My brother died 10 years ago, so we’ve taken that pain to purpose.”

That purpose, she explained, is to do “individualized fitness grants, nationwide, for any combat-injured veteran, so they start to heal through fitness. It helps them mentally, physically, [through] camaraderie, spiritually—we get it all through fitness.”

One of the participants is U.S. Marine Corps veteran Sarah Rudder, who described on the TV segment how she was wounded during the attacks of Sept. 11. “I standing outside the Pentagon,” she recalled. “It was immediately struck, and I became a first responder.” Her resulting injuries led to 13 years of leg reconstruction surgeries, and ultimately an amputation.

Army veteran Jason Smith also lost a leg while serving in Afghanistan in 2012, after stepping on an explosive device. After doing a year and a half of rehab back in the U.S., he came across the foundation and has been involved with it for three years now. “It’s just helped me heal, spiritually and mentally,” he said. “It’s given me a healthy outlet for stress and everything I do at work.”

Both veterans are now fitness coaches, devoted to helping fellow vets find their way back to a healthy path and to regain the active lifestyle they became accustomed to while on duty.

“Most of our combat veterans were extremely high in their physical activity,” Coffman noted, adding that the loss of this daily regime often results in weight gain and dependence on medicine. “We brought [exercise] back to them,” she said, resulting in pounds — and drugs — dropped.

Coffland’s organization was not only founded in memory of her late brother, Chris, but takes its name from one of his favorite phrases—”Catching a lift,” which was what he’d casually term going to the gym for a workout.

“He was an amazing human being,” Coffman said. “He enlisted one month shy of 42. He was killed out in Afghanistan...he loved [fitness], he believed it changed you mentally and physically.”

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