John Edward Heath Continues to Put on an ‘MVP’ Performance Every Day
With a bit extra give attention to core power and steadiness, John Edward Heath lastly landed a perfect power clean.
The whole quantity of weight Heath pulled was irrelevant contemplating his now-viral 2021 achievement passed off barely per week after having his left leg eliminated. As darkish as that second sounds, amputation could barely crack the highest 3 obstacles the previous Marine has needed to overcome.
Heath is fortunate to be alive, after being mowed down by a drunk driver on New Yr’s Day 2016, which resulted within the decrease left half of his physique utterly shattered. After 5 years and 12 agonizingly painful reconstructive surgical procedures later, Heath opted for amputation.
However bodily limitations, near-death experiences have by no means slowed Heath down — he was nonetheless performing walking lunges carrying 315 kilos on his shoulders simply after his third surgical procedure.
As a homosexual former Marine, John Edward Heath will without end carry with him an excellent heavier burden — the day by day ache of seeing two individuals who stood closest to him, each his companion and greatest pal, fall sufferer to suicide, an all-too-common epidemic plaguing the military community. Each tragedies have motivated him to develop into extra concerned as a psychological well being advocate. “It’s not a title, it’s a mission,” the motivational speaker says of his advocacy function.
Getting the help for different army veterans in addition to himself was how Heath attached with Merging Veterans and Players — or MVP — a company based in 2015 by Bellator MMA and NFL on Fox analyst Jay Glazer and former NFL participant and Inexperienced Beret Nate Boyer. MVP’s mission has been to assist each fight veterans and ex-athletes regulate to life after service and sports activities by “connecting them after the uniform comes off; offering them with a brand new staff to help with transition, promote private improvement, and present them they’re by no means alone.”
MVP started in Los Angeles and has expanded to seven U.S. cities with two extra branches about to open. In simply six years, Boyer says MVP has labored with greater than 3,000 athletes and veterans whereas on the identical time impacting practically 10,000 lives. Now the group has fashioned a partnership with well being giants GNC, below CEO, Josh Burris, has already donated $1 million towards enlargement and enchancment. It’s an ideal begin, Heath says, for a peer-based help group that many veterans, together with himself at one level, are nonetheless are reluctant to benefit from, whilst practically 17 veterans die every day by suicide, based on latest statistics.
“We don’t speak about it as males — it’s frowned upon for a person to cry,” Heath says. “As a result of we had been raised and wired to consider that males usually are not speculated to really feel something. Now lots of people are, are seeing the adverse end result of that mentality.”
IT’S A TEAM EFFORT FOR JOHN EDWARD HEATH
Boyer spent 10 years as a United States Military Inexperienced Beret, serving excursions in in each Iraq and Afghanistan. He went on to the College of Texas, the place he grew to become the staff’s lengthy snapper earlier than a short stint with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. So if anybody may communicate on behalf of adjusting after sports activities and army, he had each angles coated. What makes MVP completely different from different teams is it focuses on compassion, options, in addition to accountability from its staff and members.
“I would like folks to be actual with me in a uncooked atmosphere,” Boyer says. “If I’m doing one thing silly, or saying one thing silly, I would like folks to carry me accountable. That’s one thing that MVP has, at the least in my expertise, nobody else actually does. It’s a sense of I bought your again and you bought mine.”
As Boyer places it, an MVP assembly is the place bodily meets emotional to create a social protected area for vets and athletes to share emotions and sweat it out on the MMA mats. From busting chops like your typical brotherhood to pushing limits throughout coaching, after the perspiring stops, the feelings open up because the group gathers to share emotions and discover options to issues throughout this time.
“They know what I’m feeling as a result of they really lived it as nicely,” Boyer says. “It’s our peer-to-peer help ingredient. We’re not licensed therapists once we’re sitting in that room, however that’s not at all times what you want. When somebody’s in that room simply nodding their head, it’s as a result of they’ve seen and lived what you’re going. They know precisely what that appears like.”
It’s this help system that drove Burris, who was named GNC CEO in 2021, towards lending his help to MVP. Along with working with Glazer on his Unbreakable line of merchandise, GNC was already actively concerned in veterans help, having 88 shops on army bases as many different shops managed by veterans all through the nation.
There was nonetheless extra to be accomplished, as GNC initially donated $1 million, which went to assist open further MVP chapters in Phoenix and Pittsburgh. Among the many requirements MVP was capable of provide included elevated staffing — hiring licensed medical staffers to assist in extraordinary conditions in addition to safe further health club area for its conferences.
“I can’t communicate for a way veterans really feel,” Burris says, ”however I’ve had the pleasure of our involvement and being on the board of MVP and been in on a number of the conferences at a number of chapters. From the skin, I’d say the commonest theme is folks searching for a brotherhood or some sense of belonging to one thing exterior of themselves.”
John Edward Heath will get round fairly easily with a newly fitted prosthetic carbon fiber leg — therefore his social media deal with @Carbonfiber_john — and likewise through snowboard, as he’s coaching to develop into a member of the U.S. Paralympic Snowboarding staff and qualify for the 2024 video games. It’s a change in fact for the powerlifter, after the Worldwide Olympic Committee’s determined to take away weightlifting from the 2028 Video games squashed his alternative to make that staff. And there’s extra to grasp, he says.
“In the event you requested the place my head’s at, I’m actually attempting to achieve for any alternatives that individuals are going to present me,” Heath says. “I need to skydive once more as an amputee, I need to compete, I need to swim, perhaps not competitively, however I’ve bought to get again within the pool. It’s like I’ve been reborn.”
Heath’s a powerlifter, snowboarder, adaptive athlete with goals of Olympic and Paralympic gold, a comeback story for the ages for a foster youngster with a far-from-fairytale childhood, he admits.
As an athlete, psychological well being advocate, and motivational speaker, Heath continues shifting ahead, which is likely one of the causes he gravitated towards MVP. One of many difficulties Heath sees with help teams is its tendencies to dwell on previous occasions. “I feel the veteran group has a flaw of falling into the sufferer mentality,” he says. “Lots of people reside prior to now, and as an alternative of redefining who they’re and creating a brand new model of themselves post-service, they’re nonetheless dwelling prior to now. And that’s not wholesome.”
After battling acceptance points within the army for being homosexual, his introduction to MVP was met with little or no fanfare, which was a welcome reduction. “I’ve been attempting to let go of army anger of what occurred to me,” he says. So once I instructed my story to MVP, no one blinked or cared, which I had by no means skilled within the army.”
One among his largest supporters now could be Glazer, who put Heath in touch with Las Vegas Raiders defensive finish Carl Nassib, who got here out as homosexual in June of 2021. There was no stress or strings, Heath says, simply an open invite in the mean time Heath felt comfy telling his story.
“[Jay] took about 25 minutes to return discuss with me whereas I used to be ready for him, and I actually didn’t know him,” he says. “Nate’s develop into a very good pal as nicely. I simply assume MVP is completely different.”
But for different veterans, strolling by way of the door for the primary time in seek for assist stays a debilitating wrestle. It’s why Boyer nonetheless will get impressed every time a brand new face joins an MVP assembly.
“It’s nonetheless cool to look at anyone stroll in that door — perhaps a first-timer who’s by no means been right here — and never know what to anticipate,” Boyer says. “And so they develop that consolation degree by which it was nowhere close to what they anticipated. We’re all right here to help one another, like, we simply went by way of one thing that’s, you understand, bodily difficult. However nobody left anyone behind, we bought it collectively.”
Even Heath had his preliminary doubts about becoming a member of. Now he encourages anybody who’s struggling emotionally to present it a attempt.
“In the event that they’re searching for precise improvement of character, then they should be part of MVP,” he says. “It’s not simply character, for anybody who’s actually struggling and must heal, they should look into MVP.”
Observe John Edward Heath on Instagram @carbonfiber_john_.