Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of CrossFitters participated in “Murph”- a WOD meant to memorialize soldiers who have been killed in the line of duty. Murph is an endurance WOD, taking upwards of 45 minutes and sometimes well over an hour to complete. During the workout, athletes run a mile, complete 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, and 300 air squats, and then run another mile. Those who are able wear a 45 pound weighted vest to symbolize the burden a soldier must bear. A long, arduous workout, Murph is the CrossFit community’s way of honoring and recognizing the sacrifices so many have given in order to protect our freedoms.
Murph is named for Lt. Michael Murphy, who, during a reconnaissance mission in the Kunar providence of Afghanistan, walked into the center of enemy fire after his unit was ambushed by Taliban forces because he was unable to call for reinforcements with his satellite phone from any other location. Despite being shot in the back, he continued the call as it was the only way to save his men and when it was completed, he returned to fight alongside his brothers. Unfortunately, the rescue helicopter that was sent was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, which left Murphy and his men to finish the battle alone. When it was over, Murphy and all but 1 of his men lost their lives.
Murphy, and two others killed that day, Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Taylor and Lt. Michael McGreevy, were also CrossFitters. To honor their sacrifices and their bravery, CrossFit HQ created Hero WODs in their memory as well (“Jt” and “Michael”).
As a community, CrossFit is deeply connected to the military. In fact, on the military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, soldiers opened the Kandahar CrossFit affiliate, and every box in America has soldiers and veterans as members.
At my box, Rebel Fitness/CrossFit RFA, Sergeant First Class James Fleischhauer was a CrossFit coach who became a close friend. Jim served two tours of duty, one in Iraq (2003-2004) and the other in Afghanistan (2012-2013). Sadly, this past August, Jim took his own life after losing his battle with post traumatic stress disorder.
This story is all too familiar.
Just like CrossFitters do by completing Murph, many athletes are now participating in the #22kill movement on Facebook to raise awareness about veteran suicide. Those athletes complete 22 push ups a day for 22 days to recognize that every day, 22 veterans commit suicide as a result of post traumatic stress disorder. These soldiers did not die on the battlefield, but it’s because of their experiences on the battlefield that they developed PTSD. The loss of their lives is another casualty of war.
While Murph and the #22kill movement are doing an amazing job of raising awareness, it’s not enough. Our community can, and should, do even more. Our veterans need more than to be recognized for their sacrifices, they need our help. That’s why we are calling on everyone who completed Murph, or who participated in the #22kill movement this year, to donate to The Headstrong Project. Run by veterans who “know how tiough it can be to overcome the hidden wounds of war,” The Headstrong Project works with soldiers who are struggling with PTSD, anger management, grief, and addiction.
Honoring the fallen and remembering their sacrifice by dedicating a grueling workout session to their memory is a wonderful way to show our appreciation and we should continue these traditions. But, the best way we can honor the fallen is by helping their brothers and sisters who are coping with huge burdens, that we thankfully, did not have to bear.
Please consider donating to this great cause. There is no donation that is too small. And if you are a soldier who is dealing with PTSD or addiction, or you know a soldier who is struggling, please reach out to this organization. Asking for help can be the bravest of things to do.
And if you have not completed Murph this week, please consider doing the WOD Jim created as his last workout at Kandahar CrossFit in his honor (“Fleisch” 5 rounds for time: 5 cleans 185/135, 10 kettlebell swings 73lbs/53lbs, and 15 wallballs).