Firefighters help veterans through exercise

DENVER - Firefighters from fire station 29 showed veterans what it's like to be a firefighter for a day on Memorial Day.

The vets got a chance to use the fire hose and wear the 100-pound fire suits firefighters use to enter flaming buildings. The purpose is to help the vets with their physical health, improving their mood and helping them cope with life after conflict.

"We truly believe that exercise and movement is medicine," said Chris Lindley, firefighter and leader of the work out group. "We have the tagline, movement is our drug. We believe rather than medicating the population, giving them uppers or downers and keeping people on that, we know exercise is the best thing for depression and the best thing for anxiety. We hope to spread more of that going forward."

The group of veterans usually meets every Monday where they train for free. It was Lindley's idea to bring the veterans in to show why firefighters need to be in great physical shape.

"It is part of our job, we're only as good as our body is," Lindley said. 

The veterans range from conflicts like Operation: Enduring Freedom, back to the Vietnam War. Many of the veterans have some form of disability or PTSD.

"I've been diagnosed with some severe depression," said Anson Rohr, who is a veteran of the first Gulf War. "I was pretty bad off a couple of years ago. Now I feel like this is a community for me. I don't mean to get emotional, but it's really been a life saver for me."

Rohr was exhausted after putting on the fire suit and dragging a fire hose across the fire station parking lot.

"I work out a lot. It's really helped me out with some of the problems I've been having," Rohr said.

Another member is a veteran of the Women's Army Corps and served behind the scenes in the Vietnam war. 

"Being a woman, you had to wait until you were 21 then you could sign yourself in," said Minnie Teka. "The hose... you know, that was kind of hard to pull along. I can see why [firefighters] have to stay fit."

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