MVP is about embracing the obstacles, finding the confidence, coming together and sharing experiences with fellow veterans
When another MVP member invited him to a meeting, at first Matt was only interested in the workout and has come to appreciate ‘fireside chats’ held after each meeting. “My transitioning from active duty on board a ship was hectic. They just dropped me on the dock in San Diego—I had only learned that I would be discharged that day with an ‘Other Than Honorable Discharge’ after testing positive on a drug test: I didn’t have all my belongings, no place to stay that first night, and I got mugged.”
Matt was born and raised in Pasadena, California, with two older brothers and a younger sister. His parents divorced before he was born. He joined the JROTC in high school and enlisted in the Navy at 17. “I excelled my first year in the Navy, even getting a promotion during boot camp. When I got to the ship, I did pretty well in my job. Looking back, I guess I had mental issues I wasn’t aware of then and at 17 I hadn’t grown up at all at that point. After my first year on the ship, I guess I started hanging out with the wrong Navy crowdand started drinking and experimenting with pot.”
After his discharge, he stayed with his girlfriend who he had an on/and off relationship with; they had a son in 2002. They married in 2015, but it didn’t work out and are now divorcing. Sadly, during this time she spent 12 years in prison while he raised his son while working at several restaurants. “I have 20 years experience working in kitchens.” He wanted to advance his culinary career and attended a 2-year program at the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Pasadena, becoming a Certified Chef. He worked as a head chef at a kitchen in Pasadena and at a few more cooking jobs.
His life has seen some dark times. He was homeless for three years: “All it takes is one wrong decision, too much stress, or a breakdown.” He still lives in transitional housing, works five jobs and his mother is helping with his son. “I hope to move to my own place soon.” He also volunteers for The Mission Continues, a veterans’ organization that focuses on ‘after the service—continuing the service’ by helping rebuild rundown communities. They also donated a car to him.
“MVP has given me the initial push and courage in group chats with support and encouragement with ideas on how to reach my goals.” Through MVP, he learned about a personal training scholarship from another veterans’ organization. He is now a Certified Personal trainer and just started working at Unbreakable Performance Center in West Los Angeles, CA. Jay Glazer, Unbreakable owner, a co-founder of MVP and the NFL Insider for FOX NFL Sunday, and saw something in Matt: “This guy’s is consistently showing, motivating others with a positive attitude as a trainer.”
“These opportunities have all come through MVP and helped me turn negatives into positives. I see myself moving—forward feeling a little bit of progress every day. At MVP I feel comfortable to open up and tell my story.” He hopes to eventully start his own company which will combine his two loves: fitness and food. “When people work out they like meals that cater to their training needs: I haven’t decided if I’ll prepare them at a physical location for pick-up, delivered to their gym, home or office or work as a personal chef.”
“We all go through situations in life that are physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging when we find ourselves overwhelmed and drained. MVP is about embracing the obstacles, finding the confidence, coming together, and sharing experiences with fellow veterans; knowing that we’renot alone and having a safe place to find courage and bond amidst the chaos and uncertainty. For me, it's a blessing and reminder not only to reach out to those who struggle with anxiety or depression but also to be aware and address mine as well. MVP has helped me grow up and I’ve learned how to take the best out of every situation.”