A spinal injury from a military training accident left Army veteran Jesse Heineken with mobility difficulties. Jesse, of Shawnee, Kan., wanted to regain fitness and strength again in the safety of his home, so his wife Jessica reached out to The American Legion for assistance.
On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the American Legion Department of Kansas Commander Marri Krupco and Shawnee Post 327 Commander Billy Hodge presented Jesse with a recumbent elliptical. The cardio machine was made possible from an American Legion Operation Comfort Warriors grant.
Jesse “has anxiety around too many people and this elliptical bike will allow him to avoid the potential of falling, lower his anxiety, and still have the benefit of a home gym,” Jessica said. “We truly are grateful for this grant which made it possible for Jesse to have this elliptical bike. It’s nice to know that there is something in our home that can provide some help to him, and I can be right here for him.”
The recumbent elliptical was the one piece of fitness equipment that Jess felt would provide cardio and low impact on his spine, and keep him in a sitting position to feel “less guarded and less overwhelmed with concerns for injury from falling,” he said.
Krupco and Hodge spent a few hours with the Heineken family to hear their story and offer additional assistance where it may be needed.
“Jesse mentioned that he really liked how not only did The American Legion provide the equipment, but they also came to meet him, talk with him and, most importantly, listened to him and his story,” Krupco said. “This once strong, independent man that exercised to relieve frustration and stress really needed this to help him find some sense of normalcy in his forever-changed life.
“Not only was OCW able to provide Jesse with a much-needed piece of equipment to improve his physical and mental well-being, but we were able to show Jesse how much The American Legion cares about injured veterans by providing local personal connections that are willing to be there when he and his family needs them.”