Improving Veterans’ Lives Through Sport
A struggle to adjust
Like many veterans, Amway Independent Business Owner Jacob Carrithers found it hard adjusting to civilian life after years of active duty and military service. What many think of as everyday routine can be difficult to come back to, and it can be hard to know where to turn for help. “At times, I found myself in some very dark places with very few options,” Jacob says.
Jacob joined the U.S. Armed Forces out of high school in 2000. He was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and soon found himself in the thick of battle, serving as an artillery gunner with the 101st Airborne Division during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Meanwhile, his lifestyle was far from normal. “My wife Jolene was working hard keeping it together at home, and my days consisted of training, crawling through the dirt, blowing things up, and lots of downtime.”
After four years, he left active duty. His behavior didn’t change much back at home, and it led to years of suffering. “I was not taking on the responsibility of my family,” he says. Jacob knows he’s not the only one to have made the choices that he made.
A healthy alternative
One day in 2008, Jacob looked in the mirror and didn’t like what he saw. “I made a decision to stop making excuses and start living up to my potential,” he says. “That was my first day of sobriety. That’s when I made the decision to become the man my wife knew I could be.”
Jacob found his way to Phoenix Multisport, a nonprofit, sober workout facility that provides a supportive and effective environment for people recovering from addictions. After meeting with the founder and executive director, Jacob started a CrossFit® class for veterans. Today, Jacob is the organization’s Military and Veterans Program Coordinator.
“My mission with Phoenix is to extend a hand to every military member out there who is seeking or in need of a change,” Jacob says. “I think that the high expectations and demanding physical routines resonate with veterans. With consistent effort and determination, we show veterans there’s a better way than turning toward drugs and alcohol. We provide a healthy alternative through sport.”
As Jacob was taking the steps to build the Phoenix CrossFit® program, he and Jolene became Amway IBOs. Jacob uses much of what he’s learned through mentors and uplines Howie and Theresa Danzik with the team members at Phoenix. “Howie taught me that life is a constant road of growth,” Jacob says. “That asking for help is OK, and that each day presents me with new opportunity to achieve greatness and more importantly help others achieve greatness.”
Jacob hopes that the Phoenix programming can be part of what spurs this growth in people – from addict to athlete, from despair to dreaming. “I choose every day to wake up and accept my past but not let it define who I am today,” says Jacob. “It’s my goal to edify, equip, empower, and encourage those around me, and I can’t do that living in the past.”