ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – What do former professional athletes and combat veterans have in common?
It turns out, a lot more than you might think.
A nonprofit is bringing them together to help people from both transition to life outside of a uniform.
“I think the hardest part is when you take the uniform off,” said Ben Derry, who served in the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance officer from 2007 to 2015. “You lose a bit of your identity.”
Derry spent a year in Afghanistan, earned a Bronze Star and deployed to West Africa in 2014 to help fight the Ebola outbreak.
“I have great civilian friends, but you lose the ability to have conversations with them,” he said. “It took a couple of years of going through that and not really knowing what I needed.
Derry found what he needed through a nonprofit called Merging Vets and Players, or MVP. The group, made up of combat veterans and former professional athletes, meets weekly for a workout.
Whether coming from the battlefield or the football field, the struggles are similar. MVP gives both athletes and veterans back that sense of team.
“We’re so used to being with a team, we’re so conditioned to be with a team and that’s what I was used to,” said former NFL player Romby Bryant. “When I left football, that left.”
The focus isn’t just on physical health, but also mental health.
After the group works out, they talk it out.
Two seemingly different paths on the surface, but yet there’s so much connection.
“We understand team, we understand relying on someone else to make sure you don’t get hit in the back,” said Derry. “It think all those things come together, and when we get in the huddle after working out, you’ve shared sweat with somebody and you automatically have a level of trust that doesn’t happen very often.”
For more information on Merging Vets and Players, click here.