By Judy Christie
Michael Phelps, move over.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey S. Foundas, USA (Ret), 59, is in your lane.
Throughout his 29-year military career, Foundas, a Life Member of MOAA, worked out to stay in shape and has continued an exercise regimen of weightlifting and cardio — plus swimming and track-and-field training — five days a week since retirement in 2015.
His commitment paid off big when he won 16 gold, silver, and bronze medals during the 2023 National Veterans Golden Age Games in Des Moines, Iowa, where he competed with more than 700 veterans ages 55 and older. The games are presented annually by the VA with a theme of “Fitness for Life.”
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Among his awards were gold medals in swimming for the 25-yard breaststroke and 25-yard backstroke and silver medals in the 25-yard freestyle and 75-yard individual medley. In track, he won gold in 800-, 1500-, and 3000-meter races; silver in 100 and 400 meters; and bronze in 50 and 200 meters. In field competition, he won silver medals for javelin and long jump and bronze medals for discus and shot put. He also earned a bronze in air pistol shooting and placed eighth in air rifle competition.
Now a military contractor for SOSi International and exercise planner at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s J6 Directorate, he said his athletic endeavors benefit from life in Kailua, on the island of Oahu, north of Honolulu, where he retired after being stationed in Hawaii as an officer.
“The weather year-round is conducive to physical fitness activities/training,” he said.
To prepare for the swimming competition, he trained in on-base pools at Camp H.M. Smith and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “For the track-and-field events, I trained with members of the Hawaii Masters Track Club after work hours and on weekends,” Foundas said.
In the military, Foundas served as a Special Operations officer who worked at Geographical/Functional Combatant Commands, Theater Special Operations Commands, and Special Operations Joint Task Forces, and he was deployed to the Philippines and Afghanistan as a member of the military and as a contractor.
He is a founding member of the Liberty Jump Team, doing airshows in the U.S., France, and Holland, with a mission of “perpetuating and preserving the memory of all of our U.S. military veterans and remembering the sacrifice of those who never returned.” His role includes jumpmaster duties and parachuting out of a C-47 World War II-era plane and Cessna 172 skydiving plane.
Foundas “mirrored his career path and qualifications almost to a T” after the military service of his late father, Lt. Col. Arthur J. Foundas, USA (Ret), choosing officer candidate school as his father had done 33 years earlier. His father “exemplified the core values of the U.S. Army as an officer: leadership, duty, respect, selfless service, honesty, integrity and personal courage.”
His discipline for staying in shape shows in his advice for maintaining a fitness strategy: “You need to have your routine written down in a book and follow it as much as possible,” Foundas said.
Judy Christie is a writer based in Colorado.