Vail Veterans Program goes off-site for professional training program | VailDaily.com

Vail Veterans Program goes off-site for professional training program

VAIL — Medaro Montano was on the couch fiddling with his smartphone and watching television, as he had done the day before and the day before that, and the day before that …

Montano is an alumnus of the Vail Veterans Program. He loves the snow sports he learned as part of the program, but lethargy is a seductive enemy.

"I have found myself unmotivated to do anything all day, besides lying on the couch playing with my phone or just watching television," Montano said. "This clinic made me open my eyes and take a look at how unhealthy I am living my life. I can now see what the future brings if I continue to live that lifestyle."

Montano received another hand up from the Vail Veterans Program and Johnson & Johnson's Human Performance Institute.

The Veterans Path to Success is for VVP alumni a three-day training program focusing on performance psychology, exercise physiology and nutrition. They learn to expand their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy, and sustain increased engagement, performance and resiliency.

It worked so well that Montano got himself off the couch and went grocery shopping with his wife. And it was his idea to stay out of the junk food aisles.

Success is no secret

Everyone wants to be successful. Not everyone knows how.

The Veterans Path to Success is a roadmap to all sorts of success. Professional, of course, but also personal.

Dr. James Loehr hypothesized that if elite athletes train to do their jobs, then corporate athletes can too. And so was laid the foundation for the Human Performance Institute.

Johnson & Johnson liked it so much they bought it. They invited the Vail Veterans Program to be part of it.

"This is a big leap of faith for us," said Cheryl Jensen, Vail Veterans Program founder and CEO.

The philosophy is simple.

"People can change. We tend to be defined by our old story. The Path to Success program helps the veterans define their new story," Jensen said.

The Vail Veterans Program sent dozens of alumni through the program. Each had a different experience. All were positive.

"The Veterans Path to Success gave me a framework to create my own definition of success," said Hector Vicenty. "With the help of the Human Performance Institute I have learned to reconnect with my sense of purpose."

Beyond snow sports

Jensen launched the Vail Veterans Program as an adaptive ski program for military veterans wounded in the Middle East. It expanded to families, then to caregivers and now to professional training.

"We were missing so many needs," Jensen said.

The results are astounding. Veterans learn to ski or mountain bike, or any number of other things they didn't think they could do. For more than a decades they've said if they can do those things, they can do anything.

Their families have their husbands and fathers back.

Jensen wondered what they could do that would make even more of a difference five to 10 years down the road.

"We're evolving to meet their needs," Jensen said.

The goal is to give the veterans the tools they need to transition out of the military.

The Vail Veterans Program plans to send six to eight through the program each year to be trainers, then six more, then six more … and it mushrooms for good.

"It's such a blessing," said Henry Escobedo. "I have become so detached from my family and friends. Felt very depressed, thinking about all the 'what ifs.' I honestly had lost my sense of why I am here in this world.

"This was more than a life changer for me," Escobedo said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.