From Overdosing to Organizing: How One Veteran Found Purpose Again
Troy Peterson is a five-year Army Veteran who served with the First Cavalry Division as a Cannon Crewmember, earning a Purple Heart while deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. In 2006, he received an honorable discharge and headed home with PTSD and a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
On July 30, 2015, after nearly a decade of alcohol and pain pills, he attempted suicide. He failed. When he woke up feeling guilty and tired, he realized he had found rock bottom.
So, Troy decided to try CrossFit. He walked into CrossFit Waukee in Des Moines, IA and met owner Reggie Hoegh. “All he did was listen. He extended his hand to help me and I took it. My way of life wasn’t working, so maybe his way would I thought,” Troy said in an interview.
At CrossFit Waukee, he found what he had been missing since his days in the Army: purpose.
In CrossFit, Troy found a renewed self-confidence, a sense of purpose, and a community that he felt valuable in. Part of that community is Jeff Woody, co-owner of North Ankeny CrossFit. Jeff challenged Troy to do more by helping fellow veterans. He realized that fitness could be used to restore confidence in veterans by being surrounded by like-minded people and other veterans. Together, they came up with ValorFit.
What is ValorFit?
ValorFit pairs veterans together inside of gyms in a “battle buddy” type system. “No one ever does anything alone in the military, so we created a system outside of the military as well. Thinking you are alone puts people in a tough position, so we take that off the table by grouping veterans together,” Troy reasoned.
ValorFit works with the VA as well as 14 gyms from CrossFit Kinesis in Omaha to CrossFit OC3 in Davenport as well as Elijah Muhammad and CrossFit Unorthodox helping as a ValorFit ambassador gym.
Troy is proud of the work he’s done, and the work he’s doing now. “Veterans don’t need a pity party and to be paraded around like animals in a circus. We need positivity and consistency. We need to be loved and to see we can be a part of something special. We need each other. Stronger together. I am putting veterans with good people to give them a chance to become the best version of themselves, and it’s working. It’s beautiful.”