Motivation Monday – Meet Jeremiah Fountain
Written by Jeremiah Fountain
My name is Jeremiah Fountain. I transitioned out of the Army in August of 2011, after serving three years on active duty as an Infantryman. During my time in the service, I was deployed once to the Diyala province of Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord Washington. While stationed at JBLM, I met and married the wonderful woman I have the honor of calling my wife – Myra. She is now a Captain in the Army Reserves serving on AGR, which has brought us to Pittsburgh, PA. Shortly after my transition out of the Army, my wife and I were blessed with our amazing son Noah.
As with many veterans I know, I fell into a physical slump after separating from the service. I began to use minor service related injuries as an excuse to stop exercising and sit on the couch all day. Furthermore, I was afforded the privilege of becoming a full time stay at home dad after our son was born. This great opportunity to stay home with my son gave me yet another excuse to avoid exercise and a proper diet. As expected, that destructive lifestyle came with a high cost. By the end of 2012, my weight was out of control. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the devastating diagnosis of diabetes. In the spring of 2013, I had no choice but to start making better decisions for my health in order to ensure I could stick around for my son. 2013 was a roller coaster ride of trying to manage my diet and exercise with little result.
My wife discovered Team RWB through classmates in her Captains Career Course at Fort Lee, VA; she subsequently joined in August 2013. While she was at the course my son and I spent six months in Florida staying with family. When Myra would visit, she would tell me about this veterans group she had joined, and that she had started running 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons. I was extremely out of shape, and hated running, so I blew off her praises to avoid being pulled into a “running” group. Even after she came to Florida with a few Team RWB members and ran the 2014 Disney World Marathon, I still refused to join the team insisting that since I was not a runner it was not for me. In February 2014, my wife reported to a Reserve center in Pittsburgh, PA. Since we were new to the area and didn’t know anyone, she convinced me to join her in meeting with the Western PA Team RWB group for a social event. It was there that I met Susanne Kokoska, a Navy veteran, and the social director for the chapter. Recognizing her enthusiasm and passion for getting veterans together and building relationships, and her persistent encouragement, she had me logging in that afternoon to join Team RWB.
As soon as I received my Team RWB shirt, I began flying the Eagle as often as I could. I instantly felt a connection with this group of veterans and supporters that I had not experienced since I had separated from the Army. Joining Team RWB did not drag me into a runner’s world that I would not enjoy, but rather gave me a dedicated group of American patriots that would encourage, support and hold me accountable. I began to enjoy going to the local YMCA, and even though there were no other Tean RWB members working out there, I knew I had the team’s support. I have seen a dramatic change in my physical wellness since becoming a member and have even begun running races while flying the Eagle. As I have mentioned, I am not a runner; however, since I was in the Army as an Infantryman – I am no stranger to rucking. Rucking is nothing more than strapping on a pack with a certain amount of weight and walking for a certain distance. This activity has become a huge part of my life now, not only as an exercise to get healthier, but also as a way for me to honor my fallen brothers/sisters, show support of wounded veterans, and encourage other veterans to get up and do something. To do this I decided I needed to do more than just walk with my pack, and as you can see from the picture, I went all out and outfitted my ruck with a 3×5 American flag, and a fantastic Team RWB guidon made by another local team member. My long term goal is to ruck the 2015 Bataan Death March at the White Sands Missile range in New Mexico. I am a little intimidated by this goal but with the strength and encouragement of Team RWB behind me I have no doubt I will be successful in pursuing my fitness goals.
Even though I have only been a member for a just over two months, I have found that much like the military – if you are willing, then there is work to be done. After some discussions with my chapter leader, Kate Nemec Bielak, we decided that it would be beneficial to form a small group for the region of PA where I now live. I am honored and proud to be running the Team RWB West Allegheny Ruck/Hike/Run group. This opportunity has not only gotten me more deeply involved with Team RWB, but has also strengthened my drive to get in shape. I am looking forward to our first group event, on April 12th as we join veterans across the nation in the “Run as One” event.
It is great to see that organizations like Team RWB are available to veterans; I am very excited to continue getting more involved and help fellow veterans find a place to experience the bond that can often only be found with other veterans. Finding this community of veterans has given me the desire to spread the word about it, and reach those who are struggling with the transition to civilian life. My newfound passion for this veteran outreach has prompted me to encourage my sister, also an Army veteran living in Florida, to join. I am proud to say that next week she will be running her first 5K while flying the Eagle. She has also gotten our father and our older brother involved in the team, and they will also be running the 5K. There are many Vietnam and Desert Storm veterans at the church she belongs to that have also joined the team, many of them had no idea there was such a group out there besides the VFW.
Eagle up and ruck on.