Former Green Beret teaches martial arts to help local veterans

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Green Beret who has served our country is now serving the Knoxville community using martial arts to help other veterans.

Retired Lt. Col. Larry Hartsook is the real deal. He commanded Special Ops, was a Green Beret, took part on top secret missions, and worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all for the good of the country.

He was even there when Chernobyl had its meltdown.

“That’s the scaredest I’ve ever been in my life,” said Hartsook. “Lights going off, trucks moving in, moving out. All of it.”

Now he’s using his powers for good and to give back to the community. While traveling in the military, he set up a martial arts center every place he was stationed, between 50 and 60 in all, to help families bond and ease PTSD, depression and anxiety.

“It’s been working for 30 years,” he said. “It gives you something to focus on and teaches you how to relax. It’s exercise, it’s relaxation, it’s being positive.”

Hartsook wants families to not take different classes, but to build the camaraderie together. He offers big discounts to military members and their families. He says it’s probably not a good business practice but is worth it.

“If they’re sincere and they can’t afford to pay and their heart is here and they’re doing the work, I’m good with that. I’ll sponsor them,” he said.

He even teaches still. Hartsook believes in teaching not just the basics of discipline but strength – both physical and mental. He’s giving back to a community that loves the veterans of East Tennessee and his message is right on target.

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