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Army veteran overcomes losses in pursuit of new passion

Melvin Waters curls at the YMCA (WLOS Staff).jpg

WLOS - Not too long ago, Melvin Waters did not have much of a plan. He was an Army veteran living in his car after his life has spiraled downward with the loss of his nephew and brother-in-law within a few weeks of each other. His nephew, Tommy "Bubba" Harrison, was murdered in a drive-by shooting; his brother-in-law, James Wilson, died of bacterial meningitis. "That kinda pushed me over the edge," reflected Waters. "I kind of isolated myself."

The cold nights in a vehicle did nothing to ease his pain. "It's miserable," he said bluntly. He eventually found his way to Veterans Restoration Quarters where he successfully navigated the facility's demanding program. "We try to help them rebuild their life , redesign their life, and reclaim their life," explained Tim McElyea, director of VRQ. The program offers housing, meals, and other essentials to veterans as they try to figure out where they fit in society. Over 240 men reside nightly on the campus, which is a former motel, according to the charity website. "It's a resurrection to me," said Waters. "It re-started my life."

A new start meant that Waters needed to find a new passion. He said that during a visit to a laundry mat, one of the staffers told him he should try bodybuilding because of his thin waist. Waters began training shortly after, and ten years later at the age of 53 he's ready to attempt and earn his pro-card in 2018. "I started this to regain a fire inside that had died," he said.

Just like Veterans Restoration Quarter, however, Waters wanted to give back. So he is in the process of starting an online fitness training program called "1:9 Soldja Fitness 6 10", the numbers representing Bible verses (James 1:9 and Ephesians 6:10) that have guided Waters in his post-military life. "[I] not only want to motivate people to be fit, but motivate people to pursue life with passion," he said.

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