Veterans program helps both physical and mental health

Vets sweat: Vietnam veteran Kerry Schofield and physiotherapist Kevin McMahon would like to see all veterans take advantage of the free nation wide exercise program, which benefits both body and mind. Photo: Peter Hardin
Vets sweat: Vietnam veteran Kerry Schofield and physiotherapist Kevin McMahon would like to see all veterans take advantage of the free nation wide exercise program, which benefits both body and mind. Photo: Peter Hardin

Kerry Schofield has found a new lease on life after getting involved in a Veteran’s Affairs exercise program, and now the Vietnam vet wants to spread the good word.

The former machine gunner is urging all veterans to take advantage of the fully funded program, which allows himself and his wife Di to do three gym sessions a week with NJF Physiotherapist Kevin McMahon.

“We focus on longer term maintenance – aspects like strength building, cardio vascular fitness and balance,” Mr McMahon said.

While the program is all about movement, fitness and range of motion, Mr Schofield said that it can also have profound effects on mental health, including for the growing list of veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders.

“If you can get the body feeling better, the head follows,” Mr Schofield said.

“My body needed it – I was getting slower and haven’t been as active as I used to be. I don’t want to have to get a knee or hip reconstruction any time soon.” 

While the program has been operating for several years, Mr Schofield would like the RSL and other organisations to take a more active approach in promoting it to veterans.

“I would like to see a lot more vets get involved – I can’t think of any vets that wouldn’t benefit from it, and it is free for any vet and their partner,” Mr Schofield said.

“I only heard about it through another vet at a reunion, and then the program only began in Tamworth in August last year.” 

So far Mr McMahon sees five vets in Tamworth and two in Armidale every week through the program, and while he is packing up and moving back to Brisbane, the program is set to continue with interviews being conducted this week.

“I can’t praise Kevin or the program highly enough,” Mr Schofield said.

“He targets my specific injuries and issues - my body is certainly working much better.” 

“My blood pressure has dropped 17 points in three months, and I have lost five centimetres off my waist and three off my hips.” 

“I really would like to see all vets sign up and get involved, and I think the RSL and other agencies should also get involved by getting the program out there - healthy body, healthy mind.”