Wounded vet offers help and hope to others through exercise

Nick CloseUpPearland-area resident Corporal Nick Perales is a retired Marine Scout Sniper, who was wounded on February 2, 2011 while on his third military tour (he served two tours in Iraq and the third in Afghanistan) after being hit by an IED. Perales had to have a single below-the-knee amputation of his right leg and fusion of his left leg, requiring a brace from the knee down to walk.

This is not what defines him, however.

At the “retired” age of 26, Perales has started a new career and business to better himself and to offer the same to the residents of Pearland.

Perales is the proud owner of Elite Strength and Performance, a premiere strength and conditioning facility, located at 2911 East Broadway Ste. 311., which opened on June 29.

Perales found that through his activity in the gym and through physical fitness, he was able to overcome the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and be able to look forward to what was next for him in life.

PTSD can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event, such as combat exposure, child sexual or physical abuse, a terrorist attack, a sexual or physical assault, a serious accident or a natural disaster. Even witnessing one of these events can cause the symptoms of PTSD.

Common symptoms include reliving the event (flashbacks and nightmares), the avoidance of situations that are similar to the event, negative changes in beliefs and feelings, spontaneous anger or rage, anxiety and feeling keyed up and hyperalert.

“I was in a slump for the first few months,” said Perales. “I just wanted to stay inside. I was on all kinds of pain meds. One day, it dawned on me that the one thing that had always been a constant in my life was exercise. I started working out two to three times a day, sometimes for five hours.”

This is what turned Perales’s life around.

For this very reason, Elite Strength and Performance is offering a FREE lifetime membership to all veterans (combat wounded or otherwise) and first responders (police, fire fighters, EMS) who are looking for a way to heal and deal. Elite is also offering a discount to the immediate family members of the veteran or first responder, as family is very important to the healing process.

“My mission is to help folks with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, amputations and those wounded in line of combat re-integrate into the community as well as raise awareness about these issues and get the word out that help is available,” Perales said.

“If a guy walks in here today with some issues, I want to offer him mentorship from someone who’s been there, free workouts and a trustworthy friend.” Perales added.

Statistics show that 22 veterans commit suicide every day and 150 police officers kill themselves every year. These numbers hit very close to home for Perales, as he has lost some of his Marine brothers to suicide.

“Just in the past year, there have been five guys from my battalion who have killed themselves,” said Perales. “I know there have been a lot more than that, but these are the guys I knew.”

Perales himself found strength in, and is now an active member of, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.

“Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) is a non-profit organization that serves the needs of the men and women serving in our military, law enforcement, fire and rescue and EMS services – a community of people we call ‘Sheep Dogs.’

“For the membership of SDIA, helping others is a way of life. All Active Members of SDIA are current or former military and public safety personnel with an innate desire to serve and protect our nation beyond their call of duty. SDIA Volunteers come from all walks of life, but have the heart of a Sheep Dog and a desire to serve. This continued service gives us a renewed sense of purpose and camaraderie. Whether it’s helping local service professionals in a time of need or traveling to assist a community in the wake of a natural disaster, we believe that service does not stop when a shift or tour of duty ends.

“The various programs offered by SDIA provide members with an outlet for continued service, and for some, a renewed sense of purpose. SDIA’s programs include Peer Group & Mentoring, Transition Assistance, Continued Service to Society through Disaster Response Missions, Holiday Programs, Team-Building Activities (Outdoor Adventures and Hunting Trips), and other assistance as needed,” according to the website.

“Sheep Dog came to my attention at the end of 2011. They motivated me to get up and get moving. I was barely out of a wheelchair when me and my buddy did a 14-mile mud run,” Perales said.

Perales also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with five other wounded vets in 2014 and competed in the “10 Island Race” off coast of Sweden, where he had to run to the highest point on one island and then swim or kayak around the nine remaining islands.

With Sheep Dog, Perales helps other vets get out of their heads and into nature, escorting them in outdoor events, hunting trips and adventure races. He is also a regularly featured speaker at SDIA’s annual charity ball, when he isn’t climbing mountains. Sheep Dog even established an award that is named after him.

Perales never mentioned the Purple Heart he received, nor did he speak much about his new business. It was obvious that his heart and mind are focused on the needs of others. And that is true American heroism.

For more information about Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, visit http://sheepdogia.org/. To learn more about Elite Strength and Performance, visit http://esappearland.com/.

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