Veteran Don Morrell Shares His Life Saving Experience with Fitbit, Plus Details on the DAV 5K for Vets
Earlier this year, Fitbit published a story I wrote about my Charge 5 tracker and how it helped me identify heart issues I never knew I had. I was compelled to write again when I heard that Fitbit is offering a big discount for veterans this November: I’m a veteran myself, and I hope my experience with Fitbit will resonate with other vets and motivate them to take advantage of this opportunity. Fitbit helped me, and I want it to help you.
First, a little about my service—I grew up learning the importance of serving through my father. He served in the US Army as a paratrooper during World War II, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was in Germany at the end of the war. After the US Air Force was founded in 1947, he became a fighter pilot; eventually, he enjoyed a long career as a pilot for United Airlines.
With the support of my amazing wife, Kim, I joined the Army on Veteran’s Day in 1980. I went to basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and advanced training at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. I began my military career in counterintelligence at Fort Ord, California, and, after studying German at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, I was assigned as a counterintelligence agent in Germany.
While there, my duties included conducting investigations pertaining to personnel security; Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the Army (SAEDA); communications security; and actual or suspected acts of terrorism. I finished my military career in the Operations Security Section of the 9th Division headquarters at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Throughout my military service, I supported Army units within my areas of responsibility by providing intelligence and operations security, and coordinated with federal, state, and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies. That gave me an opportunity to meet, work with, and witness the unwavering commitment and esprit de corps of so many veterans and public servants. I am proud to have served with such dedicated people and to have followed in my father’s footsteps.
After the Army, I had a demanding, 25-year law enforcement career—one which I could not have done as well without taking care of my health. I stayed fit and ate well, and after retirement in 2013, I continued to stay active with weight training, biking, rowing, and regular walks with my wife and our dogs. So you can imagine my surprise when one night last December, my Fitbit indicated that my heart was in a state of atrial fibrillation!
Not only that, my subsequent doctor’s visit revealed that I’d had a heart defect since birth, and that I had a thoracic aortic aneurysm. You can read more about that here, but needless to say, I was shocked. Thank goodness for the ECG feature on my Fitbit; otherwise, I’d not have known to see the cardiologist for tests and treatment. My wife insists that I always wear my Fitbit now, and we both rest a little easier knowing that our devices (she wears one, too!) also monitor for irregular heart rhythms when we’re sleeping.
We also use our Fitbit devices for day-to-day health and wellness. We love the Sleep Score breakdowns to understand our sleep patterns; we look at our Stress Scores (admittedly, my anxiety has increased after these issues with my heart, so I like to monitor it); and I’ve become reliant on my Daily Readiness Score to help me know when I should take it easy and when I can go all-out with my workouts. Most importantly, the Health Metrics dashboard helps me track any issues I may have that are associated with my diagnosed heart conditions. Fitbit is a true health companion, and since I don’t see my doctor every day, we feel better knowing that we can see important health data 24/7.
And that’s really why I’m writing again. I want other veterans to know that a health and wellness tool like this really does help! Whether it’s a situation like mine, where it alerted me to serious heart conditions I didn’t know I had, or for those veterans who may be struggling with emotional and mental health issues—a Fitbit device can help you set and focus on physical activities that help you cope with stress or help you set and manage goals around sleep, stress management, heart health, and overall well-being. It’s so important! Throughout my career, I have witnessed death and debilitating injuries in many ways—some as a result of stress and mental health issues. I believe any tool to help prevent those losses and help those struggling is a benefit to all of us, and a Fitbit device can be one of those essential tools.
So from one vet to another: take advantage of this great deal that Fitbit is offering you. Get one for yourself, and get one for someone you love (you can get two using the Veteran’s Day 35 percent off discount). My Fitbit device made sure that I got much-needed medical attention, which means I can hopefully continue to live a long, healthy life with Kim and our family. I believe that Fitbit can deliver on their mission to help make everyone in the world healthier, and I want that to include as many veterans as possible. I hope that means you!
Interested in supporting veterans like Don? Join us for the DAV 5K, a walk, roll, run, and ride that thanks those who served and raises awareness of the issues ill and injured veterans face every day. You can participate in person in Cincinnati on Saturday, November 5, or join virtually from anywhere, starting from November 5 through Wednesday, November 30.
The DAV is a nonprofit organization, supported by the Fitbit Veterans ERG, whose mission is to empower veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. They help ensure that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fight for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educate the public about the great sacrifices and needs of vets transitioning back to civilian life.
In addition to our sponsorship of the DAV 5K, Fitbit is offering a Veteran’s Day workout coached by First Sergeant and certified fitness, strength, and conditioning group trainer Diamond Ott, available for free in the Fitbit app and on YouTube (also from November 5 through 30).
Lastly, remember that now through November 25, you can purchase up to two Fitbit devices at special discounted prices for veterans, active military, and spouses. Verify your eligibility to get your devices today.
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