John Martinez earned a medal with eight of ten events.

John Martinez earned a medal with eight of ten events.

John Martinez had a pinched nerve, took medicine for pain in his legs and attended physical therapy at his local VA medical center in Fresno, California.

“I never thought I was going to walk again,” John said.

Then his doctors recommended surgery, something John couldn’t accept. He said, “When I was in the military you could always find me at the gym, and I felt great.”

That’s when a friend told him about Break the Barriers, a program that trains disabled Veterans and provides them with personal care from professional trainers. The program costs the Veteran nothing and is a former recipient of the VA Adaptive Sports Grant Program.

The sixty-two year old U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army and California National Guard Veteran threw his cane aside and started training. “I strive for competition,” he said and didn’t want to be seen as any less of a competitor because of his cane.

John no longer uses his cane or pain medications.

“I never thought I was going to walk again,” John said. He no longer uses his cane or pain medications.

“I never thought I was going to walk again,” John said.

John began working out his legs and trained for swimming. Feeling confident again, he signed up for the 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games which was only a month away. Although he didn’t do as well as he hoped in the games, he was determined to do better in 2014.

John is competing in swimming, air rifle, precision walking, javelin, shot put, discus, cycling and power-walking. His goal in this year’s National Veterans Golden Age Games is to medal in each event he competes in. So far, he has been awarded eight medals out of ten events.

An impressive feat considering that this time last year John was still walking with a cane. Now, he is completely free of all pain medication and able to work out a few hours a day. He spends a lot of his time coaching other Veterans and encourages them to stay active.

“If you want to stay healthy, go to the gym,” he says.

John doesn’t have any plans to slow down. He’s constantly looking for new competition opportunities.

He says, “When I didn’t have my health, I felt wounded. Now, I feel normal again.”

Congratulations John and thank you for your service!

Share this story

Published on Jul. 2, 2014

Estimated reading time is 2.1 min.

Views to date: 63

More Stories

  • The PACT Act will help VA provide health care and benefits to millions of toxic-exposed Veterans and their survivors. Veterans have already begun to apply for the benefits.

  • Here are the most asked questions and answers about Long COVID. Also, a list of many of the symptoms. Use this list to tell your clinician or care team.

  • Check in for your appointments using your smartphone allows you to practice physical distancing while offering ease and convenience.