When we think about disabled veterans, images of old and broken men may come to mind, mainly due to the stigmas brought about by the Vietnam War and other controversial conflicts. As much as I hate to break it to you, those men can’t help but look old, considering they were in the service nearly 60 years ago. There is, however, a new breed of veterans rising to the spotlight, and these guys are bringing the pain. One such individual is Derek Weida, an Iraq War vet who served with the Prestigious 82nd Airborne in the US Army.
In 2007, Derek Weida was shot in the side of the knee during a house raid in Baghdad. The bullet went straight through his knee and left him with lots of ligament, bone, tissue, and muscle damage. Sadly, Derek was medically discharged from service despite his numerous recovery attempts. He claims the injury left him “depressed, drunk, and suicidal”. Derek had his “busted” leg amputated in December of 2011, an experience he claims to be liberating and unburdening. He attributes his amputation to reigniting his passion for life and sparking his love for fitness.
(Image source: 1st Phorm)
After the amputation, Derek visited several psychologists to evaluate his mental state and possibly try to find a new goal and passion in life. It was from these therapeutic and discovery sessions that both Derek and his Psychologists concluded that he had a “soldier” mentality, and wouldn’t find a true purpose in life unless he was serving in some capacity. This meant, in Derek’s mind, that he had to re-establish himself among the veteran community to regain the sense of brotherhood ad selfless service that he once had. He claims he was now a “Soldier with no Army”, looking for his true purpose in life. It is here that Derek Discovered his love for fitness, specifically CrossFit. He established a nonprofit organization called “The Next Objective” as an outlet to provide veterans with gym memberships, personal training, and event sponsoring.
Derek Weida also is a 1st Phorm sponsored athlete, an organization that revolves around veterans and fitness, providing high-quality vitamins, muscle building supplements, and apparel. Derek has also competed in various Ironman triathlons and CrossFit competitions. He does all of this with a prosthetic leg, including exercises such as dead-lifts, squats, hang-cleans, and shoulder press. He manages to lift incredible amounts of weight despite the loss of his leg and has an incredible physique because of it. You can see some of his feats on his Instagram account, where he has hundreds of thousands of followers.
If you are interested in learning more about Derek Weida, he is very active on social media and runs his own website which contains a detailed outline of the events that have led him to where he is today.
Derek is one of many veterans who have taken a stand against their disability and have worked through it to ensure that they have the highest quality of life possible. He is a figurehead in the fitness industry and continues his unwavering support for the veteran and fitness communities.