November 1, 2023
“It was getting my body moving that brought me back to life, and that’s what the Veterans program did. It was the catalyst that brought me back to life.”
Patti Bond, Warminster branch member of YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties since 2017, lost her dear husband Pat in 2021, following a hard year battling cancer. Retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer Pat Bond retired from service in the 1990s following a dedicated career as a Quartermaster and instructor at the US Naval Academy. Pat also served on a minesweeper in the Gulf War. They were married 37 years, raising a son together.
“Pat’s loss was devastating,” explained Patti. “I was his primary caregiver when he was sick, and that was very difficult. Following his passing, I couldn’t bring myself to do very much of anything for a year. I was feeling very hollow inside, like half of me had died with him.”
It was in a YMCA newsletter that Patti Bond was reminded of the donor-supported Veterans Wellness Pathway program in Warminster. The Veterans program is also open to family members of those who have served in the military, and Patti took the opportunity to restart her life again.
“Prior to the Veterans program, I was going through the motions. Amidst my grief I was telling myself, 'You need to eat,’ ‘You need to move.’ Things like that. But I still had this emptiness inside. When the veterans program opened for the new session, I decided it was time to be part of it. I thought it would be a way to be a better version of myself going forward. Having it be a veterans program meant I would still be connected to my husband. It was because of him I had the opportunity to be a part of it.
“Once I got involved in the program and started interacting with the other participants, whether in person or on Zoom, I just felt myself coming back. That void was being filled. As a veterans group, it was like an extended family. With everyone in the group coming from a common experience, even though it wasn’t discussed. It was a silent knowing that everyone there had either served or was family of someone who had served.”
Patti joined the Veterans Pathway program in 2023, attending weekly classes in person at the Warminster branch and online zoom information sessions, where participants learn about nutrition, mindfulness and healthy habits.
“Megan and Holly were my coaches and they were absolutely wonderful. Megan was put on this earth to do this work. She just exudes knowledge, love and support.”
“I feel like I was afraid to venture out before because of the loss and moving on without him. Because of his service, and the benefit of being able to join the Veterans group because of it, I felt like he was with me. I didn’t feel that emptiness. I didn’t feel like I was half of myself anymore. I felt more whole and complete like I used to when he was here.”
Now a graduate of the program, Patti continues to exercise at home and at the Y, building up her “grandma guns” so she can be strong for her granddaughter.
“I was attending, and still am, bereavement support groups,” Patti shared. “That’s all good, sharing experiences and support. Joining the [Veterans’] program, and getting my body moving, is what made a huge difference. You can sit around and talk and share and think and commiserate all night but it was getting my body moving that brought me back to life and that’s what the vets program did. It was the catalyst that brought me back to life.”
Patti concluded her story with some advice for military Veterans and their families. “If you are eligible for the Veterans Pathway program, just sign up and do it. Don’t hesitate. The Y is wonderful. The atmosphere, the staff, the members and the programs. I can’t speak highly enough about it. I am so grateful for the program.”
Patti (far left) and co-participants during their Veterans Pathway program at the Warminster branch.
Patti and her husband, Retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer Pat Bond prior to his passing.