On Wednesday, May 24 Active Heroes was fortunate to open their second community center, located in downtown New Albany on Main Street. The event was well attended by local businesses, partners of Active Heroes, and of course veterans. The community center is part of a new concept for Active Heroes, a 501c3 charity, as it is in conjunction with a for-profit gym. Veterans will be able to use the gym for much more than just a place to exercise. The facility will offer acupuncture, massages, classes, and more special events to connect veterans with each other.
GrayStone Performance, a CrossFit gym, will offer crossfit classes and high interval training to anyone wishing to purchase a membership but will also focus on serving veterans. GrayStone Performance manager Adam Smith is a retired Green Beret in the U.S. Army and knows the struggle that many veterans face. For Smith, the answer was exercise. “Physical fitness generates physical health,” he said. “Better health, better mental acuity, the ability to think clearer, wake up in the morning with more energy, tackle the day with more energy, be less stressed, have less anxiety, sleep better at night.”
The ceremony kicked off with introductions, thanks, and a presentation by Active Heroes founder, Troy Yocum. Troy expressed his gratitude to all of the individuals who helped make the community center possible and was particularly grateful to the Derby City Whisker Club who made a huge impact on the fundraising efforts. Active Heroes was also able to collect a $12,000 donation at the ceremony from the family of deceased veteran and New Albany native Robert Lewis Loughmiller.
Attendee, Jack Jenkins of Louisville, is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard who served in both the Korean War and WW2. He came out to the ribbon cutting to see what Active Heroes was doing in Kentuckiana and was surprised to hear they already had a community center in Louisville. Jack recently took a trip to Washington, D.C. for the first time and on the trip enjoyed meeting and talking with other veterans.
Veteran Josh Leary, his wife Glenda, and his service dog Hawk were also in attendance. Josh is a veteran of the U.S. Airforce where his second tour of Afghanistan ended with a blast resulting in mild traumatic brain injury, headaches, low vision, and PTSD. Josh is excited that the community center will be so close to his Charlestown, IN home. “I think it’s great that there are more opportunities for connection. I’ve tried to connect with other veterans in Charlestown and never really felt accepted.” The Leary’s youngest son has a passion for veterans and they are hoping he too will find some opportunities to connect with the veterans he looks up to.
Everyone in attendance seemed to love the concept and is rooting for the partnerships success. Patti Weiter, Director of Health and Wellness at the Louisville VA Hospital, is really looking forward to referring some of her veteran clients to Active Heroes, “We hear all the time from veterans that they wish there were more services offered in Indiana so I’m glad I now have somewhere to direct them. I think this will really help a lot of people. We are lucky to have Active Heroes based here in Louisville.”