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Veterans, an Ice Bath Challenge and the Health Benefits

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The Our House, Our Home Foundation held its inaugural ice bath challenge on Saturday, August 26, between noon and 4 p.m. The event was hosted at the VFW Post on Drayton Street in Spring Hill, and the festivities were held for homeless and unemployed veterans alike. It was an event that was open to the community; there were food trucks owned and operated by veterans, and anyone was free to participate in the ice bath challenge.

The foundation exists to help veterans get back on their feet and provide opportunities for them through housing and careers to “help them win their war.” As many of these brave men and women are tragically homeless, founder Nathan Brewer works to find lodging and employment for these individuals. Due to their internal and external struggles, some veterans also unfortunately find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Brewer understands this and knows they can better themselves.

“I got a guy a job with a union in Tampa just recently. I got in touch with my uncle. He’s in a union. I said, Hey, I got a guy; he can weld. Can he come to the union hall and see if he can get in? He’s been certified; he can weld.’ ‘Yeah, send him down.’ A lot of these guys… they are trying to deal with whatever problem they had—something that happened to them.”

So, why ice baths?
For Brewer, who founded Our House, Our Home in 2019, the reasoning is multi-layered. Not only does it help the body recover from injury, but it also helps survivors cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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According to the foundation’s website, 8,000 veterans take their own lives each year as they succumb to a lack of hope or purpose. Many veterans, such as Brewer’s grandfather and uncle, have struggled with PTSD for years after returning home from war. Finding such a simple solution that alleviates even some of their symptoms would certainly be welcome.

According to Brewer, the benefits come from triggering the fight-or-flight response of those afflicted. As he explains, the trauma comes from a moment where the individual was frozen in fear and did not know what to do. Once the fight-or-flight response is triggered with an ice bath, the person must then choose to continue to stay in the ice. By remaining despite their body’s urging to leave, the afflicted choose to overcome these feelings and condition themselves to overcome the symptoms of PTSD in the process.

Brewer also swears by the other health benefits of ice baths, as he used them when he was rehabbing a knee injury from a motorcycle accident two decades prior. Jason Giddens, Brewer’s cousin who designs tools for the towing industry, insists that it has been transformative. Having had surgery on his shoulder and bicep shortly before an important event, he wanted to be in the best shape possible without the use of medication. After hearing the advantages of ice baths, he started using them consistently, and the results were impressive.

“I did it to make myself better,” Giddens said. “In the process, I sleep better, I didn’t need any pain meds, my mind is clear, my anxiety… pretty much disappeared. I’m down 136 pounds. I used to weigh 322 pounds, I’m roughly 195–198ish. Right around there. I mean, it just inspired me to try to inspire other people.”

The foundation is supported by various businesses, including Green Earth Building Maintenance, Rebuilt Meals Incorporated, Direct Auto Insurance, and MTFO Designs. Brewer looks for more veterans to take up the challenge in the hopes they will receive the physical and mental benefits he and his cousin have experienced. Moving forward, the foundation owner looks to expand his operation to a team of four to six individuals who will endeavor to seek out and help veterans nationwide.

In the left ice bath is Pierre Flournoy Sr. in the right ice bath is Franklin Quintanilla and pouring the ice is Jason Giddens.
[Photo by Austyn Szempruch]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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