ARLINGTON, Texas (TBEN) – What do former professional athletes and combat veterans have in common?
It turns out, a lot more than you might think.
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A nonprofit organization brings them together to help people transition to life outside of the uniform.
“I think the hardest part is when you take the uniform off,” said Ben Derry, who served in the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance officer from 2007 to 2015. “You lose one bit of your identity. “
Derry spent a year in Afghanistan, earned a Bronze Star, and was deployed to West Africa in 2014 to help fight the Ebola outbreak.
“I have great civilian friends, but you lose the ability to have conversations with them,” he said. “It took me a few years to go through this without really knowing what I needed.
Derry found what he needed through a nonprofit called Merging Vets and Players, or MVP. The group, made up of veterans and former professional athletes, meets weekly for a training session.
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Whether they come from the battlefield or the football field, fights are similar. MVP gives back to athletes and veterans that sense of team.
“We’re so used to being with a team, we’re so conditioned to being with a team and that’s what I was used to,” former NFL player Romby Bryant said. “When I quit football, it was gone.”
The emphasis is not only on physical health, but also on mental health.
Once the group has trained, they talk about it.
Two seemingly different paths on the surface, yet there are so many connections.
“We understand the team, we understand relying on someone else to make sure you don’t get hit in the back,” said Derry. “I think all of those things come together, and when we get together after practice you’ve shared the sweat with someone and you automatically have a level of confidence that doesn’t come very often.”
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For more information on merging vets and gamers, click here.