Twenty-two veterans in Spartanburg County will receive a one-year gym membership for free.
Workout Anytime, a Georgia-based 24-7 fitness franchise, announced it has launched the offer at its new location at 1915 Old Furnace Road suite D in Boiling Springs.
The offer is a result of the company’s partnership with Lift for the 22, a nonprofit headquartered in Oregon that seeks to fight the veteran suicide epidemic by creating a support network centered on fitness.
Veterans of all ages who are not already Workout Anytime members can apply via the organization’s website to obtain one of the memberships.
The offer is already in place at the fitness chain’s gyms in Anderson, Greenville, and Easley.
“This partnership is going to be incredibly powerful,” said Carter Davis, president and founder of Lift for the 22. “Veteran suicide is a very unfortunate topic that we, who are on the front lines of it, see the effects of every day. There are hundreds of veteran’s organizations across the country. We are the first to specifically fight suicide through fitness.”
Davis served as a corpsman in the U.S. Navy. He was deployed twice to the Middle East.
He returned home with nerve damage in his leg and was confined to a wheelchair. His injury, compounded by the breakup of his marriage, sent him spiraling down a dark hole.
“I had a really bad transition,” Davis said. “The day of my divorce, I went home and almost committed suicide that night. I had two buddies show up and drag me to the gym. … I realized if I exhausted my body, I could exhaust my mind.”
Davis said he lost six former brothers-in-arms to suicide.
“These were guys you’d never think would even consider it — leaders and men with families,” he said. “There was something wrong and no one could figure it out. … You have to develop a new mindset about life.”
Davis said the organization’s name was derived from a 2012 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study that estimated 22 veterans per day were committing suicide.
Although that number has decreased to 20, Davis said he wouldn’t rest until the rate is zero.
“I tell every single veteran I speak to that I want them to go into the gym each day and pick up one extra pound,” he said. “Then I tell them to go pick up that extra pound in life.”
Davis said Lift for the 22 has partnered with 181 fitness centers across the country, including 130 Workout Anytime locations.
At each gym, the organization encourages one veteran to step up and take a leadership role in creating camaraderie with the veterans who benefit from the program.
As the program recycles each year, 22 new veterans will be selected for each location. Davis said that means the community at each gym will continue to grow throughout the years.
“Our goal is mass output — on a nationwide scale,” he said. “We believe we can prevent veteran suicides.”
The enrollment schedule for each location in the Upstate is different. Davis said the organization coordinates with each individual gym throughout the year to announce when the enrollment period is about to begin.
“We wanted to do our part,” said DJ Jordan, co-owner of Workout Anytime in Boiling Springs. “This is something that really touched our lives… These men and women are our heroes. We think it’s the right thing to do.”