Senior Tax Associate Brandon Engels has not served in the military, but he has always had an interest in helping those who have made that sacrifice. So, when Brandon saw a flyer at his gym looking for volunteers for 23rd Veteran, he was inspired to get involved as a fitness instructor.
Creating positive triggers
23rd Veteran offers 14-week mental health programs for veterans who have left the military and struggle to transition to civilian life, with the goal of helping veterans live a life free from isolation, anxiety, panic and depression.
The program includes wellness, fitness and recovery. During the 14 weeks, veterans hike and dine out together, exercise, discuss mental health and visit a gun range. Each activity is designed for each veteran to experience potential triggers, with the goal of converting negative triggers from military experiences to new positive memories.
The program features group fitness activities followed by discussions to encourage mindfulness.
For the fitness portion, Brandon leads exercises three days a week before work. After each workout, Brandon leads a discussion group. He also regularly joins in the other group activities and stays in touch with members after they graduate from the program.
“Through volunteering, I have seen firsthand the impact that this program has on veterans,” said Brandon. “Before the program, many of them were afraid to leave the house, but after, not only were they eager to try new things, but they also felt a new sense of purpose.”
The cost of sending one veteran is nearly $5,000, and thanks to the Baker Tilly Wishes grant, more veterans will have the chance to go through this potentially life-saving program.