AP Photo/Joseph C. Garza, Tribune-Star

There was a time when our country assumed no social responsibility for the men they sent to war. These men returned injured, broken, and sick, and virtually zero benefits existed for them — no Veterans Administration, no G.I. Bill, nothing. The service members of these wars were expected to simply return, and get on with their life even though they had suffered lost limbs, fatal diseases, lost eyesight, and debilitating “shell shock.”

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Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

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And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

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Photo by Fred Baker

Not being able to maneuver properly or fire your rifle in combat has deadly consequences; a little duct tape or parachute cord might seem stupid, but ask any soldier, Marine, airman, or sailor and he or she will confirm that these two little things can work miracles, and have been known to save lives.

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila Devera

Black Box, work out of the day, burpee, ass to grass, kipping, Turkish get-up: If you know these terms, then you are one of the thousands of service members who have found their way into CrossFit. There are now countless CrossFit gyms on military bases around the country and even a few in Afghanistan that are operated by active-duty military members. In the civilian sector, there are numerous CrossFit gyms owned and populated by combat veterans.

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AP Photo/Gregory Bull

Midway through my second deployment to Iraq, I vowed to eat better; war favors the young, and age was catching up with me. Unlike my 21-year-old soldiers, I just wasn’t getting what I needed out of the food I was eating. The combat zone is hot, the gear is heavy, the resupply convoys I led were long hauls that consisted of changing tires, recovering vehicles, loading and unloading heavy supply. I vowed that when I returned to the United States where healthy food was available, I would start eating as much of it as possible.

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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Sonoran Switchback, the personal blog of Shelly Burgoyne.

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