Los Angeles Times

Sam Farmer: Combat veterans, former pro athletes bare their souls in program

LOS ANGELES - Their weekly meeting place is a West Hollywood gym, tucked above the Sunset Strip, where they gather every Thursday afternoon.

But their common ground? Immeasurable.

Most are combat veterans. Others are former professional athletes, many ex-NFL players. They have busted knees, rebuilt shoulders, sometimes amputations and often emotional scars that run even deeper.

Each is searching for his or her place in the everyday world.

"The first time I came here, I thought I was coming in just to be an inspiration to the vets and talk," said former quarterback Ryan Leaf, who uses the story of his addiction and failed football career as a motivational cautionary tale. "The NFL players still think we're supposed to be the inspiration for these

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