Year of the Veteran: Vets give back to students through intense physical training

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - We continue our Year of the Veteran series here at WIS, but this time the tables have turned. We often talk about the community giving back to our vets, however, on Friday, local vets were giving back to students as part of a community outreach program.

Students at Eau Claire High School pushed through an intense, hour-long workout led by Marine Corps and Navy Vets Friday afternoon.

The vets say they hope some hard-core PT will help the students grow both mentally and physically.

"They encourage people, they push you and they make you believe in yourself," Eau Claire HS freshman, Caiuni Sterling said.

Sterling is part of a group of Navy Junior ROTC students breaking a sweat at on the school's football field.

"It is hot, but also, it builds you up mentally and physically," Sterling said.

That's the idea, and why the USC Student Veterans Association, ROTC, and the Richland County Sheriff's Department partnered with the school as part of a community outreach program.

"We're out here to push them outside their comfort zones. We want to push them outside those barriers that they believe exist to show them that they can do more than what they think they can," USC Student Veterans Association president, Candace Terry said.

Sterling says she wasn't always on board to join the program.

"Honestly, my aunt, she put me in there, but the more I got into it, the more it made me want to stay in there," Sterling said.

Pushed to the limit, Sterling said, the challenge has had a positive change on her life.

"When you feel like you do want to give up or like you can't do it – like me, because I'm 'overweight' or whatever – but when they tell me, 'you can do it, you can do it' then it pushes me and it makes me think, 'yes, I can do it," Sterling said.

She says working with the vets is an honor in itself.

"When they have these special days for them and I've never actually interacted with any of them so to have the opportunity to do that really helps me out and makes me feel like I accomplished something," said Sterling.

"This is a way for the veterans to actually give back to the community. We served our country, we loved that and then it also gives our veterans a purpose. We always are looking for that mission that serves a need outside of our own and this fulfills that need," said Terry.

Through the outreach program, the vets make several visits to Eau Claire High School each month offering mentoring and tutoring, character development, and of course, physical training.

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.