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Veterans helping veterans

HOT SPRINGS - Bill and Ted are on an excellent adventure right here in Hot Springs. Bill is getting his act back together through the VA hospital’s domiciliary program, as is Ted, along with fellow vet Wade Burns of Hot Springs. Burns owns Elite Fitness Studio in downtown Hot Springs and donates his studio time to help fellow veterans with their fitness needs.

Bill Furnas, 38, from Lincoln, Neb., came to our local VA hospital for its renowned PTSD treatment. Furnas was a Ranger, lastly in the 6-17 Cav. based in Alaska.

“Somehow I got into flight birds,” he said, “and flew Kiowas, light armed reconnaissance helicopters.”

In July 2008, Furnas worked in Mosul, Iraq, for a year. “I wanted to go to Afghanistan after 9-1-1,” he said, but was deployed to the city of 1.8 million instead.

“Silly as it sounds,” Furnas said, “Combat was easy. Coming back stateside was more of an adjustment than anything. I really had no clue.”

Furnas met Burns his first day in the program at the Hot Springs VA. Burns was spending time in the program as well, and they began working out together, along with several other vets.

“I had no clue Wade owned a fitness studio,” he said. While he enjoyed working out at the VA, he also began to train at Burns’ studio. “I’m not a big body builder,” he said, “I am more fitness-oriented.”

Over time Burns helped Furnas develop a training program best suited to Furnas’ needs.

“It’s getting me started again with a small routine that gets me back in shape,” Furnas said.

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While Ted wasn’t able to participate in the interview, he gave us this, about Burns’ penchant for helping others improve their lives through physical fitness. “I believe that Wade Burns is sincere about his desire to help people. He genuinely cares and is motivated to help people make a difference in their lives.”

Another veteran working with Burns is Frankie, an eight-year Marine Corps veteran from Denver, Colo. The 34-year old infantryman is seeking his “pro” card from the International Federation of Body Builders. He and Burns trade training tips for professional body building shows. Ward was excited to be showcased in this feature. “My daughter loves to scrapbook,” he said, eager to share the photos and article with his loved ones.

Burns, a certified personal trainer and fitness expert, said he likes to work the muscles “synergistically.” He uses advanced equipment specifically for utilization in sports medicine training. “It utilizes prime moving muscles while activating secondary stabilizing muscles,” he said. The stabilizing muscles are the muscles you’re not using every day. It’s about balance.

Furnas is impressed with the VA’s residential treatment program. “It’s a stable, non-chaotic environment with excellent staff,” he said. Furnas believes the education at the Hot Springs VA is more advanced, “and they’re not pushy about it.” He calls it his “head space and timing check.”

“I am so lucky to be here,” he said, “This is all part of the healing process.”

Burns concurred. “These veterans have served their country, doing extraordinary things. Sometimes you just have to fall to get up,” he said.

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