Sweat It Out: Real People & Real Results at Endeavors’ Veteran Wellness Center
Last Updated: 18 Jul 2022
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Real results from real people at the Veteran Wellness Center in San Antonio.
In case you hadn’t heard, the long-awaited Veteran Wellness Center (VWC) finally opened its doors in 2021!
The Endeavors VWC model was created to address a full scope of wellness, decreasing suicide among Veterans and their families by improving their overall quality of life—this includes physical health, along with mental, emotional, and economic health. (Learn about our 6 pillars of wellness here!)
Suicide Prevention Includes Physical Fitness
“Being able to move more, exercise, and get a cardio workout several times a week can decrease depression and anxiety and support recovery,” said Dr. Jill Palmer, LCSW, Chief of Behavioral Health at Endeavors. “The VWC Fitness Center helps our Veterans and their family members realize their goals and choose wellness every day at their fitness level.”
To make this type of physical health accessible to everyone, our first state-of-the-art VWC includes a large fitness center designed to be inclusive for all of our clients.
The fitness center features equipment that accommodates those who depend on wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids, as well as those who don’t, allowing us to serve each and every one of our clients as they tend to their physical and overall wellness.
Here are a few stories from members of all kinds who have seen the VWC’s fitness center improving their quality of life.
Ann is a Veteran who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism. Unfortunately, because of this, she has had negative experiences at other gyms. “I have actually quit other gyms in the past because of dealing with jerks,” she said.
But her experience at the VWC was different.
“Sometimes I feel judged because of my Aspergers, but when I come into the VWC, it is always a welcome experience,” she said. “The staff is so supportive and understanding. It keeps me motivated to keep coming in.”
When she began training with Sean Rybolt, VWC Fitness Coordinator and Wellness Coach, twice a week, she hoped to lose weight and become more physically fit. However, her results have soared beyond what she imagined, including not only physical, but also positive mental and emotional improvements.
“I’ve lost ten pounds and made huge strength gains,” she said. “But it’s also helped with anger management and stress reduction. I am much more calm now. This is my first experience where the mind and body are combined.”
During his Air Force career, Jon consistently ran for cardio and lifted for strength training, but after retiring his focus shifted and he lost the consistency he once had.
“Having the VWC nearby saves a lot of time once used to travel to a community gym. I am now back with consistency and on the road to better fitness,” he said.
Jon says he has seen a dramatic shift in his strength and overall feeling of well-being. “Visiting the wellness center is one of the highlights of my day,” he said. “The Endeavors wellness team is doing an amazing job of focusing on wellness, one person at a time.”
When we first met Vicki, the widow of a service member, she was looking to improve her physical mobility. She relied on a walker, but wanted the freedom to move around better on her own.
Now, after four months of training, Vicki is often able to leave her walker at the door when she comes in for her sessions. “I notice positive changes in movement, and I feel stronger,” she said. “I can do things now that I wasn’t able to do before.”
Vicki also notes that the VWC has been helpful in both physical and mental aspects of her overall health. She especially appreciates the community-oriented nature of the center.
“Everyone is polite and accepting. I feel comfortable coming in. It feels like everyone really cares about our community. There is an obvious passion that can’t be replicated or faked. I wish there were more places like this around. ”
When Steve’s doctor noticed his cholesterol levels were increasing, he knew he might have to go on medication if he didn’t start taking steps towards physical health.
As CFO of Endeavors, Steve had access to an amazing fitness facility right across the street…so he hit the ground running and began training with Sean. Two months later, Steve has already seen tangible results.
“So far it’s working great,” said Steve. “I’m in two belt notches and after about two months my total cholesterol was down 10 percent, my LDL (bad cholesterol) is down by 24 percent, and my HDL (good cholesterol) is up by 46 percent.”
He’s also seen positive mental effects. “I have more energy to start the day,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to get up early and get to the gym. But once I’m at the office after the workout, I’m more focused and ready to start my day.”
The San Antonio VWC and Beyond
We are also thrilled to announce that, in May of 2022, we took a big step towards expanding our mental health and wellness offerings for El Paso Veterans and military families!
Endeavors closed on 10 acres located near the intersection of Joe Battle Blvd and Pebble Hills Blvd to construct a 40,000 sq ft Veteran Wellness Center that will also house the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic.
We can’t wait to share the holistic wellness model we implemented in San Antonio with our beloved El Paso community.
We’re grateful to Energy Transfer, a community-minded business in Texas, for helping us provide the highest-possible-quality physical wellness to San Antonio Veterans.
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.