Meet Abel Hernandez
Former Army Sergeant Abel Hernandez is one of many veterans who have graduated from the Warrior PATHH program at Boulder Crest Foundation, and like all those veterans, his story and experience is unique. Because TRX was founded in the Navy SEALS, empowering veterans like Abel to live full, healthy lives has been core to our mission since the start. That’s why we provide TRX Suspension Trainers™ as part of this amazing program that fuses pioneering mental health strategies with the power of physical fitness.
Get to know Abel with us—his story, his experience, and how he came out the other side.
What was your journey into military service?
"I joined the Army back in 1999 as a way to kind of get out of the neighborhood I was in. I didn't come from the best of places. Didn't really have any plans for college or anything like that. And just like many other people, I just wanted to find something to do. So I joined the Army and I was very proud of it. I excelled at my job. I did extremely well".
At what point did you realize the journey was taking a different direction?
"Kosovo was definitely a wake up call. You get to this other country where people are hurting and you start doing things and you don't think much of it. Then September 11th happened and I decided to reenlist. At a certain point, posttraumatic stress started affecting my career. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I struggled with sleeping, anxiety, and depression. I would take it out on people. When I eventually spoke up, I got the typical response—suck it up. When my military career ended, I started to cope a lot with alcohol and drugs and anything that would take the pain away because, by this time, I felt a lot of shame and guilt. I had a hard time integrating with society. I felt like I quit".
How did you discover the Warrior PATHH program?
"I was in an organization that had a monthly huddle where we would come together to share what we were struggling with. They recommended I attend the Warrior PATHH program at Boulder Crest Foundation. I was reluctant. I'd already been to many psychologists. I was taking eight pills a day, every anti-anxiety medication, every antidepressant. After being diagnosed with PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression, you kind of think—you're no good. I was in such a bad spot that I knew, "This is it. One last shot to try to get... to just try to find some kind of normalcy".
What was the biggest growth you experienced at Warrior PATHH?
"To hear that you are not an outcast, that it's okay to not be okay, that it's okay to struggle, to tell others that you're hurting, and it's okay to take time out. The encouragement and acceptance. There was freedom in that. I’m sober. I don't take any medications—going on two years with the help of my dog, Sadie. It takes a lot of work, a lot of effort to wake up and not let that last year of my military career define the earlier five years where I did so well. I can finally keep my head up high and say, "No, I did serve this country. I am who my brothers say I was".
How did physical fitness play a role in your rehabilitation?
"Working out is one of those things where you know you're going to be challenged. It's not always going to go your way. You have to make a commitment… to actually go through it. You start off not being able to do a lot of repetitions, but you try it and you keep going at it knowing that eventually the progression will be 10 times better than where you were the day before. And when you come out the other side, there's an immediate rush, almost like I accomplished something, I did something good for me. You just position yourself a lot better".
What would you like to share with veterans everywhere?
"When I got there, I was afraid because I thought we were going to talk about war stories, and as you can see—I have my legs, I have my arms. I didn't consider myself a veteran for a long time, and I carried a lot of shame and guilt. But, I learned that we instead dug into the root of the problem. The family origin. I'm a byproduct of sexual abuse from a family member. I'm a byproduct of a broken home, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, everything. Finally admitting that and knowing that was life-changing because now I understood that the reason I struggled wasn't because I wasn't brave or because I wasn't a warrior—it was because I had no control over the things that happened to me. Seeing my support group look at me and embrace me and say, 'Hey, you're one of us,' I felt home. I felt accepted".
Join us in supporting veterans like Abel by empowering them to shift their state of mind through fitness—buy our limited-edition TRX® Digi Camo Strap and we’ll give one to a veteran of the Boulder Crest Foundation.