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Gerofit Program giving vets their lives back

Posted at 11:29 PM, Nov 12, 2018

Cheryl Parham is a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

She hated exercise— so much that when she left the services she vowed to never workout again.

Her doctor told her she needed to start working out to help with her breathing, that’s when she found out about the Gerofit Program at the VA on the Alameda in Baltimore.

“It helps when there is other people around you that you know have been around the same thing and kinda making sure they get their weight and physical issues taken care of,” Partham said.

The outpatient exercise program is for veterans that are 65 and older.

Jamie Giffuni, the Gerofit Program Manager and her team help the veterans fight back the signs of father time with personalized programs that's free through the VA.

“A lot of them report that their doctors have dosed them down on their medications,” said Giffuni. “Just watching them smile and when they ask about each other and when they are there to support each other it just makes me feel like my job is worthwhile.”

For the past 5 years, Army Veteran Robert Milton Shields has sweat it out in this gym.

Permanent burns from his time in the Paratroopers left a physical and emotional mark he still carries.

“I can't sleep at night 2 or 3 hours I sleep,” Shields said. “This helped me by being around people. I don't know what I would do if I didn't come here.”

Giffuni has seen people earn their lives back from something as simple as putting their socks on by themselves to finishing a 5k.

“There are vets who couldn't fit their wedding bans on because they had gained so much weight. Just participating in the program and getting the circulation back they've been able to put their wedding bands back on. That's really gratifying when the wives come in just to say thank you because it's helped them get a little bit more of themselves back.“

At the end of that session, the trainers gave the vets some special gifts for Veterans Day.

One of them a gratitude sheet where they write down what they are thankful for at the end of each day.