Understanding Military Experience and Culture

with Megan King of Team RWB (Red, White and Blue)

Each year, approximately 200,000 service members transition from the military back to their civilian communities, leaving some with a sense of detachment and isolation.

Megan King of Team RWB (Red, White and Blue) discusses programs available to foster connectivity between veterans and civilians through community-based physical and social activities.

Posted on:

Nov 04, 2019

Hosted by: Paul Lisnek
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Lisnek: When service members leave the battlefield and return to civilian life, they can feel isolated, returning to a society that doesn't quite understand their experiences. Hi. Welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Paul Lisnek. The military-civilian divide is greater than ever, resulting in a sense of misunderstanding and alienation between the two groups. Joining me to discuss efforts to bridge these two communities is Megan King. She's the Chief Advancement Officer at Team Red, White & Blue. Megan, it's good to see you.

King: Thank you.

Lisnek: I know it's Red, White & Blue, RWB for short.

King: Correct.

Lisnek: But let's just tackle what your mission is. How in effect do you work to bridge that gap between vets or service members and civilians?

King: Sure. So, we bring military veterans together with community members through physical and social activity. The end game is to enrich their lives, so help increase their physical and mental health. And they do that through positive relationships locally.

Lisnek: Is the notion that it is through that interaction, through coming in contact with each other, that they can move through barriers and stereotypes and anything else that's getting in the way?

King: Exactly. We are a low barrier to entry organization. We recognize the power of bringing veterans together with veterans but then also with community members. And when you're doing things like running together, walking together, getting together over a cup of coffee, you really break down the barriers and the misunderstandings. Lisnek: You often say, just talk it through, and you can work through anything. There's a couple of major programs that you guys do that I want to focus on, if you don't mind. I want to start with one that's called Chapter and Community. Talk to me about what that accomplishes.

King: Sure. That is what's happening every day in communities across the nation. We have more than 200 chapters. And that's if you're a veteran or community member who wants to come out and join Team Red, White & Blue, you can find a local and inclusive event happening pretty much every week, potentially even every day. And that's where you just get to know each other and start working on your own physical and mental health and really breaking that isolation. We know it has to happen in your local community.

Lisnek: And again, so that's about -- It's physical activity. It's a variety of things that let people participate. King: Right. And really, you can find what works for you. So, we kick off a welcome event every month. That's a run or a walk. But then you might find yoga or a functional fitness workout. So it's really to meet your needs and meet you where you are and help you focus on being better tomorrow

Lisnek: Which is superb. And then there's another program. Got to have leaders. And it's called the Eagle Leadership Development Program, and it is about leadership.

King: It is. So, we were founded about nine years ago now, and started with a CCP program, so that that chapter program, and recognized that we needed volunteers who believed in our mission and could go out and put on these events. And so the next evolution of that was our Eagle Leadership Program. We want to make sure that we're investing in the leaders who are helping veterans make connections and communities. So that's what that program is, making sure those volunteers have what they need to be successful themselves, but then also be able to help support all of the veterans and community members locally.

Lisnek: I know it's important, too, that you have to be able to raise funds for the work that you do. And if we take a look at -- There's sort of three parts to your enrichment process, right? The health, the people, the purpose. But to fund all of that, you almost involve those pieces, and there are events throughout the year. King: Exactly. And so one of the greatest things about the organization is it's completely free to all members. And so like you said, we do some funding opportunities throughout the year. We host a number of events that are national in nature. So might be an obstacle course race coming up at the beginning of the year, a run midway through the year, a functional fitness event at the end of the year. But it's really to help weave together a national story and give people an opportunity to come out and show that they support veterans and really sweat with veterans at the same time. Lisnek: Sweat? I like that. I might not. I don't know. But, so, I understand how the service members find their way to you. Just talk a little bit about community members in terms of them realizing they need to be part of this gap that needs to be bridged.

King: Sure. So we have actually grown almost entirely via word of mouth. So it's organically driven, but you can go to our website, teamrwb.org, and find your local chapter as a community member as a veteran, and find your local activities. And the community members continue to come out. It's their way of feeling connected. Potentially they didn't serve, or maybe they don't even have a family member who has served, and it's their way to give back and connect.

Lisnek: Alright, you do such great work. I appreciate it so much. Megan King, the Chief Advancement Officer of Team RWB, which is Red, White & Blue.

King: Yes.

Lisnek: Appreciate your service. Thank you so much.

King: Thank you.

Lisnek: And thank you for joining us, as well. you want more great conversations with leaders in your community and across our country, just go to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Paul Lisnek. Thanks for watching.

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