Three years ago, Jeremiah Montell weighed 320 pounds. He took 15 different medications. He made 3 suicide attempts.
Montell had recently retired as a Navy petty officer 2nd class, due to injuries sustained in combat. He’d deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq — after serving in both places earlier, as a Marine.
Fortunately, he learned about Catch a Lift. The organization provides gym memberships and home equipment, fitness programs and motivational peer support to post 9/11 combat-wounded military personnel, aiding in their physical and mental recovery.
Montell joined a gym in Austin, Texas. He recovered so well that he got himself certified as a personal trainer — so he could help others.
When Catch a Lift officials asked him to share his story, he became a public speaker. Now he too is a board member.
That’s just the bare outline of Montell’s amazing story. On Saturday, November 11 (7 to 11 p.m., Birchwood Country Club) he’ll share it with Westport.
The 3rd annual event promises to be the best one yet. It’s a chance to meet inspiring veterans, eat, drink and dance.
This will be Montell’s 3rd visit here. Westport has a special place in his heart. It was one of the first places he spoke. And his reception here has been uplifting.
“I’ve gotten so much from so many people there — professionals in the fitness industry, and private citizens,” he says.
“They turn out. They want to hear our stories. And they want to help.”
Montell calls Westport “a beautiful town. But it’s a town of real people. I know they’re busy. But they take time to come, and ask thoughtful questions. They really understand we’re going through physical and mental things. They want to be a part of my life. I’m really fortunate to have that little town on my side.”
2016 was a milestone year for Catch a Lift. The organization raised $1 million — of which 91% goes to help veterans.
“These great men and women need our support,” says Westporter Adam Vengrow, a national board member who is instrumental in every local event.
“We’re fighting suicide, PTSD, alcohol and drug abuse, severe weight gain, physical injuries including multiple limb losses and severe burns, plus much more. Together, we make a difference right here.”
Local businesses, gyms, the Westport Police Department, first responders, VFW and many others continue to help. But over 500 veterans are on Catch a Lift’s wait list.
In addition to ticket sales for the Veterans Day event, Vengrow seeks auction donations and program ads. Click here for more information.
“Twice a year, we bring veterans from all over the country to Westport,” he notes.
“We open our doors, we thank them for their service, we offer a hug. They leave with a lasting thought that Westport is unlike any other place in the country.
In the middle of town, he adds, “our bridge is filled with American flags. There are peaceful protesters from left and right at various times there. But everyone comes together in patriotism, and support for the men and women who protect us, in the hope of an even brighter future for our country and the generations behind us. I love Westport!”
In fact, Adam Vengrow loves Westport almost as much as Jeremiah Montell.