Latham gym offers free memberships to help veterans combat mental health challenges during pandemic


LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Rhythmic reps, sweating towards a goal, and being surrounded by like-minded people. Air Force Veteran Mike Falvo says when he left the military after 12 years of service, a workout routine is what helped him most when he struggled being a civilian again.

“I felt like a failure, because I said to myself, I said, wow I did so well in the military, now I’m struggling so hard. What happened? My self-esteem tanked, and I felt I was not in a good place,” explains Falvo.

Falvo was one of the first to receive a free membership through the Lift for the 22 program at ABC Sports and Fitness back in 2018. He says the event, which is open specifically to local veterans, is especially needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially for veterans who do suffer from PTSD or depression or anxiety like I do, it gives them a chance to get out and see other people and feel productive,” Falvo explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton. “When that cabin fever sets in, you need an outlet and a program like this is great for getting a routine and structure and getting you back into the swing of things.”

Gym owner Mike Doheny says COVID made 2020 tough, but they were able to bring the Lift for the 22 program back again thanks to a co-sponsorship with Dagen Trucking. The program represents the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day, according to the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.

“The gym is not just for physical health, but as well as mental health and having some close family and friends that are in the military, we understand what PTSD is like and how the gym can help that,” Doheny says.

Falvo says he hopes the memberships will help his fellow veterans get back in their groove and keep the pandemic from driving them to a desperate place.

“As a veteran, that hits me right in the heart. It hurts every time I hear that, because no veteran should ever feel like they have nowhere to turn,” he says.

To learn more about how to apply for the Lift for the 22 program at ABC Sports and Fitness, email Matt Doheny at

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