A focus on ‘post-traumatic growth’

Retired Marine Corps Col. Patty Klop says she was a “tortured soul for 12 years.”

Among her duties was serving as the officer in charge of mortuary affairs in Afghanistan. “With that came immense trauma. We grieved deeply.”

In March 2022, she was bestowed the best gift she has ever received — the “gift to live life with joy and contentment.”

Klop went through a seven-week post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment at VA. “It was extremely powerful. I am so much of a better person, talk about post-traumatic growth.”

This week’s American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast welcomes Klop and Marine Corps Lt. Col. Chris Reardon. In the episode, Klop shares her story, Reardon talks about his nonprofit, Freedom Fitness America (FFA), and they address other issues related to PTSD, veteran suicide and more.

Reardon is the executive director of Freedom Fitness America while Klop is on its advisory board. FFA is geared toward active duty servicemembers, first responders and others. “To be fit for the fight and life,” is the motto.

“At Freedom Fitness America, our simple mission is that we train tactical professionals and those whom they serve to be fit for the fight and life, which means to be prepared for danger, crisis and overcoming obstacles in everyday life,” Reardon explained. “Our values are fitness, faith, family, finances and freedom.”

FFA’s approach to fitness is akin to CrossFit or obstacle course racing. It uses fitness to boost mental wellness to fight the suicide epidemic.

“The trauma — the things we go through in life — doesn’t have to break you,” Reardon said. “If you cope with them (life’s challenges) in the right manner, and if you are prepared to meet them head on, you are going to come out on the back end better.”

Reardon says FFA aims to train and develop peer leaders to broaden the impact. “A lot of what we are trying to do is to give practical, tangible content and skillsets that an everyday person can pick up and do to transform that human connection.”

Check out this inspiring story as well as other topics co-hosts Jeff Daly and Ashley Gutermuth address such as:

• How VA hospitals outperform non-VA hospitals, according to a new analysis.

• A TikTok video goes viral mocking Gen Zers on the battlefield.

• A 59-year-old country music star who rejoins the military.

• The “most significant transformation of the military justice system” since the Uniform Code of military Justice was established. The move relates to oversight of investigations into military sexual trauma, domestic violence, homicide and other violent cases.

• Where to meet the co-hosts during national convention in Charlotte, N.C., later this month.

Check out this week’s episode, which is among more than 190 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.