For veteran Rachel Kerrigan, lifting weights saved her amid a personal struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The only time my head is clear is when I’m under the bar,” she tells Newcastle Weekly.
The Invictus athlete, who serves as Veteran Sport Australia’s engagement specialist, is heavily involved in a new, free program, which launches at Hunter Strength and Performance next week.
The Veteran Strength Training Group was the brainchild of the gym’s owner, Leroy Scott – a veteran himself.
It is open to all veterans and offers the chance to lift weights, train, learn and connect with other veterans in the region.
Those with injuries, or who require adaptive lifting equipment, are encouraged to come along and see what they can do as well.
“Sport is something that is common amongst all the forces – it doesn’t matter whether you are air force or army, sport is such a big part of your life,” Ms Kerrigan adds.
“And then, when you leave the military, especially if you’ve got some sort of mental health or physical issue, sport is not something you can usually get into.
“Whereas with lifting, and being part of a gym, there are so many ways you can adapt.”
Ms Kerrigan says Veteran Sport Australia has been established to support all veterans and their families to improve their health and wellbeing through sport and recreation.
It aims to provide a central hub, helping to connect people with the right opportunity.
She praised the role of people like Mr Scott for creating a space where veterans could come together.
“There’s not a lot of people in the community that are willing to do something like this for the veterans – it’s really lacking,” Ms Kerrigan says.
“So, if more people get behind it and more things like this started then there’d be more places for us to go to be able to connect.”
The program will start on 19 June and take place every Wednesday from 5pm to 7pm at the gym, which is located at Beresford Avenue, Beresfield.