While attending different community events, I am fortunate to meet and dialogue with many people, Veterans and civilians, alike. One of the organizations, I have found, that is truly reaching out to our service member population is Team Red, White, and Blue. They encourage healthy options for our Veterans through exercise and social activity and invite civilians to be part of the “team.” I am proud to be one of the 86,164 members. If you have not heard of this dynamic organization, take a look.
The following message is from TeamRWB’s blog from the Executive Director, Blayne Smith.
To read the full blog post :http://www.teamrwb.org/blog/celebrating-five-years/
It is hard to believe that it has been 5 years. Many of you may not know that October 2, 2010 marked Team RWB’s first ever event, the Twin Cities Marathon. I don’t think that any of us had an idea of the journey that we were beginning. Over the past five years our Team has become a second home for tens of thousands of Veterans, military members, our families, and supportive members of our communities. I could not be more proud to be a part of this Team and the work that we are doing to enrich so many lives. On our anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to tell our story.
A Better Way:
It was clear to us that the existing model for wounded Veteran support was inadequate, if not broken altogether. Much of the support being offered was too centralized, too inconsistent, too grand, felt way too much like charity, and cast Veterans as broken victims. We knew that the answer had to be local, consistent, sustainable, valuable, positive, and empowering. Ultimately, ski trips, golf clubs, and hockey tickets are just expensive ways to defer the real challenges that await Veterans when they come home for good. What our wounded truly needed were real people, providing authentic support, where they lived.
The Right Questions:
Our realization that we needed to serve an inclusive population of Veterans brought a number of exciting and challenging questions to the forefront. Before launching headlong into a strategy that sounded good, we decided to invest some time and energy in answering the two biggest questions:
1. Who is an American Veteran?
2. What does he/she want and need?
So, we dove into the problem, we conducted a scientific survey, and we did our homework. The results were clear and compelling. Here’s what we learned:
Veterans typically fall into one of three groups. We call them: Connection-seekers, Family-focused, and Driven. Interestingly, Connection-seekers and Driven have very complementary needs…and this explained Team RWB’s early appeal. While about 25% of Veterans are seeking connection, mentorship, and belonging (Connection-seekers); another 25% are actively looking for opportunities to lead, coach, mentor, and matter (Driven). The remaining 50% are generally getting along quite well and will join only if the experience adds value to their life (Family-focused). Armed with this knowledge and understanding, we went about creating a model that would actually give Veterans what they were asking for.
A New Beginning:
During the last few months of 2012 we ran the organization while simultaneously building (mostly behind the scenes) Team RWB 2.0. We spent a tremendous amount of time re-tooling everything from our mission statement, to our programs, to our website. We built budgets, a chapter playbook, and new communication and marketing tools. Most importantly, we invited about 30 of our local leaders, national volunteers, board members, and advisors to the very first Team RWB Leadership Summit…a January weekend in Chicago that would change everything. We spent three days sharing a clear mission and vision, new tools and guidelines, and academic evidence that our strategy would work. It is hard to describe the incredible passion and energy that filled the Pritzker Military Library during the summit, but everyone went home empowered and committed to the mission.
We have, and will continue to, invest in our members and volunteer leaders. We now have over 1,300 volunteer leaders! Through the camps, leadership development program, and regional leadership summits, we have committed to strong leaders, a strong team, and strong communities.
Team RWB is celebrating 5 years! What are you waiting for? Veterans, civilians and families are invited. With old man winter on his way, don’t be left out in the cold. As Blayne Smith mentioned, people have found their second home with TeamRWB. Hope to see you at their next event.