Peloton Member, Comeback recipient and Army veteran Russell E. has always had a hard time sharing his story. After a challenging upbringing, when Russell had the chance to get away from his hometown and join the strong community he found within the Army, he took it. September 11th happened at the beginning of his career in the military and was the starting point of his 13 years of service to our country which included multiple deployments, incredibly challenging circumstances both at war and back home and admirable sacrifice. There came a point in Russell’s military career where he knew it was time to retire and start to focus on himself and grieve the loss of his father and the end of his first marriage, which both took place while he was deployed.
Once Russell was finally retired he struggled to adjust back into life as a regular civilian. “It’s very hard to go from an active combat zone to regular territory,” says Russell. Even though he anticipated the adjustment, the mental struggle hit him hard. “In 2013 I went through a really rough period--there were consecutive days where I wouldn’t sleep, I was convinced that someone was going to kill me, I became an alcoholic and was suicidal,” says Russell. “Eventually I knew it was time to seek mental counseling and I was diagnosed with severe PTSD.” As Russell was working through this challenging period, he confided in his friend Sarah who was able to relate to what he had been experiencing. Sarah was aware of Peloton’s Comeback program and knew it could be an amazing outlet for Russell.
When Russell received an email from Peloton this past October he really couldn’t believe it. “I called my friend Sarah and found out she had nominated me,” says Russell. “It happened at the best time because I’m ready to take control of my health.” Russell is anticipating clipping in to his first ride and says he looks forward to giving it his all on the Bike with another group of committed individuals all working toward the same goal. He’s also excited to continue to share his healing experience with his new wife who is also a veteran herself and who has been a huge source of support for Russell. “I’m excited to show up--when I do something, I do it all the way and I’m excited to have the accountability aspect as well,” he says. Russell has already immersed himself into the Peloton community because he feels it’s important for him to open up to the community around him in case he can help someone else. “I want to let people, especially other veterans, know that they’re not alone,” says Russell. “I’m excited to bond with this community and remind others that we’ll get through the tough stuff together.”