By Mekialaya White


FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A northern Colorado-based nonprofit is helping veterans get on their feet — literally — and improve their overall health. Vets4Life offers wellness and exercise therapy by partnering with local businesses. And it’s not just physical health the organization aims to improve: It’s a multi-faceted approach to better their lives physically, emotionally, and socially.

Vets4Life in Fort Collins at CrossFit DNR

(credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Mekialaya White caught up with some of the veterans at CrossFit DNR in Fort Collins on Thursday. Veteran Jonathan Philpott was among several in the class; he got involved in Vets4Life in May and hasn’t stopped participating since.

“It’s the people that are here — after getting out of the military, I missed the camaraderie and the having people to sweat with on a daily basis,” said Philpott. “Coming in here, it’s a great place to start the morning off. Getting to high-five everybody, even when I don’t have to be up in the morning, I’ll still get up and come here. It helps me get back what I had in the military. Because I loved the military. After nine years it was my life, it was a struggle to get back to normal. And this has helped me regain that.”

Philpott says connecting with Vets4Life Executive Director Nicholas Dunagan changed his life instantly.

“It’s like it was meant to be,” he laughed.

Vets4Life in Fort Collins at CrossFit DNR

(credit: CBS)

Dunagan, a fellow vet, helped co-found the organization back in 2015. He says the need to give back was apparent.

“Every day you’re in the military, you’re conditioned further and further into that lifestyle. And you’re there — you depend on your buddy to your left or your right — you do what you’re told, for the person on your left and right. When you get out, you don’t have that person, and it’s shell shock,” said Dunagan.

Dunagan encountered his own struggles while transitioning from military to civilian life.

“When I got out of the military, I got out in 2014. It’s been a rollercoaster ride on its own. But something I’ve found with giving back to other veterans is a sense of purpose for myself. People get lost in their work, and it’s all for good and I can see the impact it’s making directly with vets that are in our programs,” Dunagan said.

Programs like the partnership they have with CrossFit DNR are just one facet of their organization. CrossFit DNR co-owner Kyle Knapp says it has even helped him step up his fitness game.

“It starts with the physical side. That leads to community growth. So when we’re having fun in the gym supporting each other, we see confidence grow from the first day they step in to a year down the line. It’s amazing to see how their habits change,” Knapp explained.

Vets4Life is always welcoming new members, and Dunagan says you’ll be greeted with open arms.

“We have veterans from all eras. We have Vietnam veterans, and I just signed up a vet two days ago that served Iraq last year. All it takes is a DD 214.”

They are also always open to donations and volunteers. Learn more at www.Vets4Life.org.

Mekialaya White

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