Local gym steps up to help veterans

Local gym steps up to help veterans

SPOKANE, Wash. - A local gym is stepping up in a big way to help local veterans.

When Spokane's Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center axed a program aimed at keeping veterans healthy last month, dozens of vets didn't know where to turn.

Veterans told KXLY4 News that program offered a source of camaraderie and support. It was somewhere they could workout with others who understood their situation.

When that program was canceled, a local vet who had a gym to offer opened his doors to the group.

An American flag proudly waves in the parking lot of Gold's Gym on Spokane's South Hill.

It's a symbol of freedom owner Dave McCann fought to protect.

"I'm a Marine Corps veteran, naval aviator, I flew Cobras," said McCann. "I came to Spokane after my active duty was over."

So when McCann heard that dozens of vets no longer had a place to workout, he had to do something.

At issue: A physical therapy program utilized by 65 veterans. The so-called "minimally supervised group" were allowed to use the VA's physical therapy equipment without direct supervision from a therapist.

"Although these veterans are patients within our system, they are not physical therapy patients," VA Medical Center Director Ron Johnson said.

On August 19, those vets were told to get a referral for physical therapy or stop working out at the VA hospital.

"It just put them on the street with nowhere to go," McCann said. "So owning a gym, having the facility already up, it just made sense that, as a veteran, reaching out to other veterans, allow them to come use our facility."

McCann contacted the VA and got the green light for the idea.

"We're really excited that Gold's Gym has come forward and partnered with us," said Johnson.

So far, only a handful of vets have signed up, but this program just got started on Monday.

"We're really excited to help them out in any way that we can," said Brad Bushy, Gold's Gym manager.

Part of that help includes an orientation process in which trainers get a sense of a vet's physical ability and then implement a workout program.

"We really want to make sure that they have programs available and they know what they're doing and that their form's good and they're safe at all times," Bushy said.

It's just a way to help those who have given so much for others.

"It's kind of a leg up for vets who need a leg up," said McCann.

The VA says they had to cancel the program because their physical therapy patients more than doubled over the past two years. They're now serving more than 4,200 patients and weren't able to accommodate the "minimally supervised group."

Right now, Gold's Gym is extending this offer only to that group of 65 veterans.