Team Red, White, and Blue

Last week, I covered resources that help veterans recover from injury through physical activity and sports. I could have included Team Red, White, and Blue with those but I chose to include it in this week’s posts because of an article I read in TIME magazine. In the article, Army Veteran Eric Browry talks about what Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB) has done for him.

During his time at Walter Reed and after his medical retirement from the Army in 2006, Browry suffered from PTSD, depression, and an intense desire to isolate himself from his family, friends, and the rest of the world. Browry worked his way back from that through physical activity and is now a “Chapter Captain” for Team RWB. When talking about what Team Red, White, and Blue means to him, he said, “Team RWB is an organization that empowers you to become a leader again….to be productive and contribute to your community.”

Having a purpose is key to surviving and thriving as a veteran and organizations by vets, for vets, which allow veterans to discover that purpose are becoming more prevalent. I covered two other organizations this week, The Mission Continues and Team Rubicon, which have a similar goal to Team Red, White, and Blue. While The Mission continues focuses on getting vets involved in the community through service projects and Team Rubicon helps veterans serve their communities through disaster response efforts, Team RWB helps veterans transition and get involved in their community using sports and social activities.

Founded by Army Major Mike Erwin in 2010, Team Red, White, and Blue was designed to help combat the tendency, like Eric Browry demonstrated, to isolate oneself after military service by providing a venue to help them connect to their new community. Team RWB does this by holding weekly fitness activities, monthly social events, and through participating in events such as races, mud runs, and other physical events. Because Team RWB includes veterans and non-veterans, these events allow the veterans to build a new “team” or unit within their community, increasing their chances of a smooth transition and providing them a support network.

Using a “Veterans Ambassador Program,” all new veterans are welcomed into the chapter (it is a Team RWB requirement that all new inquiries be answered within 48 hours) and helped to connect to the other members. They also offer Athletic Camps that introduce veterans to new sports and activities that they can then take back to their chapters. Chapters consist of a “Chapter Captain,” like Browry, who is responsible for leading the group and for “mission accomplishment.” Other positions within the chapter include Veterans Outreach Director, Community Outreach Director, Athletic Director, and Social Director.

So far, Team RWB is accomplishing its mission. In just three years, the organization has grown to include over 15,000 members and chapters in 55 cities, with the largest chapters in cities with large VA hospitals, such as Tampa, Syracuse, and Chicago. Upcoming events include participation in the Enmark Savannah River Bridge Run (7 Dec), Tucson Marathon (8 Dec) and Chevron Houston Marathon (19 Jan). You can find more upcoming events at: http://teamrwb.org/get-involved/events.

To get involved in a chapter near you, you can check out Team Red, White, and Blue’s website at: http://teamrwb.org/get-involved/join-the-team. Don’t see a chapter in your area but want to start one? You can find out all that you need to get started at: http://teamrwb.org/get-involved/newchapter. You can also check them out on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/TeamRWB.

You can also read more of Eric Browry’s story at: Team Red, White and Blue | A Continuing Call to Service | TIME.com http://nation.time.com/2013/06/20/a-continuing-call-to-service/slide/team-red-white-and-blue/#ixzz2lmcrJkdb

© 2013, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.

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