Vincent (Rocco) Vargas is a man of many talents, to include being a part owner of Article 15 Clothing, Black Rifle Coffee Company, Leadslingers Whiskey, Warfighter Tobacco, and various other pursuits.  He’s also a Youtube Star, public speaker, author, cooking show host and musician among other things – in short, he’s a renaissance man.

We have a open and honest conversation about various topics, to include:

• What he’s learned as an entrepreneur

• How he uses humor to discuss difficult topics

• His military transition and struggles

• Veteran’s owning their transition

• His favorite Article 15 Shirt

• His favorite Youtube Video that he’s starred in

 

  

Chapter: Mid-Atlantic/Pittsburgh

Member Since:  December 2016

Motto: “People can & do recover-I’m living proof!”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“Ever since I was young I’ve always had a hard time making friends. Most people can’t keep up with my active lifestyle and don’t understand my compassion for helping others. Team RWB provided the perfect outlet for my passions for physical fitness, volunteering, and social interaction and support. I had randomly met one of my team members, we ‘clicked,’ and she invited me to start attending events and to get involved. I asked so many questions and I almost couldn’t believe how awesome this group is! From the first time I ran with the group on Wear the Eagle Wednesday to hosting my own even next week, it’s been such a pleasure being involved in such a good cause with so many great people.”

What has Been Your Favorite Event or Experience with Team RWB?

“I haven’t been with the team for long, but my favorite activity so far was our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day service project. Our team loaded up our packs with non-perishables and rucked over 3.5 miles from the South Side, through Downtown, and into the North Side of Pittsburgh. The organizers at Northside Common Ministries were so excited to receive our donations and we were impressed with the quality of their operation; instead of visitors given a pre-set package of items, users were given freedom of choice to select which items they could use most and desired. It was a moving experience for our entire team. Additionally, a few of us ran back across town as a flag relay. We got to talk about Team RWB with a few bystanders and spread support and cheer for our country & our veterans. It was an amazing experience.”

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How Do You Serve Your Community?

“As a person with a dual-diagnosis of mental health conditions, I use my lived experience in sharing my recovery story to instill hope in others. Through my employment as a recovery specialist, I work to promote recovery & resiliency principles in the community for both mental health and substance use disorders. My position also gives me the unique opportunity to educate middle and high school youth about mental health and inspire them to combat stigma in their schools. I also volunteer with my church’s Recovery & Restoration groups, distribute ‘Blessings Bags’ to the homeless, and I sit on a national council that works to help support young adults through mental health challenges as well as help them connect to other young adult peers.

What Inspires You?

“So many things! Everything! People, places, things! Miracles, random acts of kindness, unconditional love, incredible stories of people overcoming obstacles, hope, daily blessings, the strength and courage of those around me, working with others with a shared vision, anytime people come together for a common cause, nature, life in general. There is beauty in every one and everything! God provides and life IS good.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“How has Team RWB NOT impacted my life?! Team RWB came at a really rough time in my life; I had left my current church, I was struggling with some mental health issues and relationships, and I was feeling alone, overwhelmed, and unsupported. My team welcomed me with open arms, no questions asked. They are incredibly supportive and relentless in their personal and group efforts in the community. Every member brings something unique and beautiful to the group and it’s such a positive atmosphere. I’m surrounded by people with the same interests that enjoy making the world a better place by helping others and encouraging each other! That’s such an amazing feeling.”

What Would You Say to Someone Who is Thinking of Joining Team RWB?

“Do it now! There are no strings attached. It’s easy to fit it in to your daily life, there’s something for everyone, and it’s a great way to be part of something BIG. There are so many opportunities for inclusion and growth and the possibilities are endless. You can make new friends and be part of a great team that supports and encourages each other, during and outside of activities. You’ll be able to set-and crush goals and make a difference in your community, whether it be through enriching the lives of veterans or other philanthropy. Health body, healthy mind, healthy spirit. #EagleFire”

Blog written by: Matt Henman

Note: This blog is Part 2 of a 6-Part Blog Series.

I wanted to share a bit about my experience with growing veterans and our time at “camp.”  The trip started with the crew of us meeting up and it was like a group of old friends who had not seen each other in quite some time – excited to dive in.  You know that feeling when you are picking up your best friend at the airport for a weekend of memories? That was the feeling from the start.  As we headed up to the campground we had some of those bonding moments.  One of our friends was not feeling so hot, we stopped got him to a bathroom and waited.  In a moment of, hey man, you need a little quality rest, we dropped him off at the hotel and continued our journey.  Listening to music, talking, and stopping at the gas station before camp to get some well needed snacks for the weekend.  

As we got to camp, we were greeted by complete strangers, ready to open up the cabin and let us in.  The campground was gorgeous and from the very beginning authentic relationships began to form.  I’m not sure in my adult life, when the last time I was at a campground, staying at a cabin, on a lake with some amazing friends was.  How often do we take the time to turn off the noise around us and just be in the moment?  This is the beauty of some of these experiences.  When you give yourself the opportunity to unplug and invest in real relationships with others, amazing things can happen, not only for your soul, but for me, the ability to regroup and really connect with people.  

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Our peer support training was excellent, and the stage was set.  We went around the room with the instruction to share a part of our story with the group assembled.  What happened over the next hours of the day was incredible!  Not only was there a safe place for people to share a part of their story, but around the room we went and folks could share their whole story.  People in that room felt safe enough to open up and share their hearts and souls with the others in that room, and it was a time I will never forget.

That evening we had some excellent down time, shared a good meal, and settled in by the bonfire.  The sharing and conversations continued and together we dove in, organically, and began to grow closer.  Like a band of brothers around the bonfire we were able to circle up, and listen to one another continue to explore what we had opened up in the hours before.  It was a time of healing and a time to dig deep.    

That final day, the bonds were formed, and the ending ‘graduation’ was a beautiful experience.  We had the opportunity to celebrate the weekend, to acknowledge the work that had been done and continue to develop those bonds in real life.  For me, the experience with this team of folks was an incredible weekend, but more importantly I learned a very important lesson.  With your tribe, its ok to open up, to let people in, and in the path of life, we can find room for real relationships, and trust others.    

Give An Hour is a national network of mental health professionals that have pledged to provide free, confidential support to military veterans and their families.  Over the past 10 years, they have provided thousands of hours of care to our community and are working to change the way that we think about mental health.

On this week’s podcast, we have the privilege of speaking with Nancy St. Claire and Rebecca Morrison, two incredible ladies who are working hard at Give An Hour’s mission.

Nancy is a licensed therapist and currently serves as Give An Hour’s COO.  She began her journey as a cultural anthropologist serving alongside soldiers in Iraq.  After seeing war first-hand, she ultimately decided to study psychology and practice in a clinical setting.

Rebecca is a program specialist at Give An Hour and works closely with organizations like Team RWB, Team Rubicon, and The Mission Continues to provide peer support and suicide prevention programs.  She is a Gold Star spouse and has also worked with families and survivors at TAPS.

We have a very honest and sometimes raw conversation that covers:

• Why we should stop using the word ‘stigma’

• The importance of maintaining our mental well being

• The value of seeing a counselor and asking for help

• Why you should absolutely ask ‘the question’

Team RWB really appreciates Give An Hour’s work and their partnership.  Nancy and Rebecca are making a difference and we know you’ll appreciate their perspective on this very important topic.

  

Chapter: Team RWB Toledo

Member Since:  2014

Motto: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” ~Gandhi

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I was hosting a run challenge every month using the Nike app on my phone. The challenge would be between me and other veterans that I was stationed with and we would all encourage and push each other. I was using this as a way to stay connected while doing something positive that we could all work towards still together although we were all spread out all over the world. One day it was mentioned to me that I should join Team RWB and that I could do the same thing but with more veterans and in my local area! SCORE!! I had never heard of it until I researched it that day and I joined! I remember feeling so excited that there was a group like this and it would help me with building relationships in my community…even better! I received my shirt and bought one for my two kids and we signed up to do our first 5k as Team RWB members. That is where I met for the first time other members of the Toledo Chapter and from there I started going all over Ohio and meeting other Eagles from the other Ohio Chapters and formed wonderful friendships all over the state! I joined for the same reasons a lot of others do…you’re looking for that connection that you had in the military that you’re now missing and you want and need to fill that void. I often wondered if I would find somewhere/something where people would understand me, get my sense of humor and want to do the same things I wanted to do and still have that drive to accomplish the mission…in Team RWB I found exactly that and much more!”

What has Been Your Favorite Event or Experience with Team RWB?

“Wow, how does an Eagle pick just one!?! Every time I do an event with Team RWB, no matter what the event is, the experience is unforgettable and comes with memories that will last a lifetime! Every event that I have done has been a unique and memorable experience in some way or another and that is the truth. At each event, I have made new friends and contacts and that alone makes the experience a great one! Plus I have tried new things that I would of never thought of trying before joining Team RWB (GORUCK For example). If I have to pick one though then I would pick the one that influenced and changed me the most, Team RWB Yoga Camp. This yoga camp influenced my life in ways that I never knew was even possible, especially since I had never even tried yoga before attending this camp. Our instructor, Barry, was a Master Yogi and a veteran himself and he got it, he understood the things that veterans bury deep within themselves, he understood what didn’t need to be said and he definitely understood the benefits of what yoga would and could do if one allowed it! I remember how he talked about yoga and inner peace and it scared me…neither of these things was I wanting to explore nor did I want. Inner peace is a scary thought when you have trained yourself to be mostly robotic with not a lot of emotional feeling attached to anything but he talked to me and he explained to me to just go into that hot room with no expectations and just allow what will be to happen, happen. And so I did, I entered that hot room that day and I completed the 90 min class…and I found that inner peace because I kept going and I kept trying and I kept an open mind…and now afew years later I am still practicing the same yoga that I learned at that camp and now bringing other Eagles to join me so they do can experience that inner peace and all the other wonderful benefits that yoga brings! Team RWB and Barry taught me about myself and now its my turn to pass that on to others!”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“I serve my community by the different roles that I have in numerous veterans organizations and live by the motto “Veterans Serving Veterans”. I am the Chapter Captain for Team RWB Toledo. I am also the Division 1 Representative, Chaplain, and committee member for the Ohio State Women Veterans Committee. I am a member of Team Rubicon, DAV, AMVETS, American Legion and VFW and like to support them as well in any way that I can. My full time job is I am a Veterans Service Officer. I believe that it is important to let veterans know that they can have dual roles in organizations to further fulfill the mission of helping and serving other veterans.

What Inspires You?

“I find inspiration in numerous things from seeing someone who is willing to try something new outside their comfort zone, someone who has the courage to show up to an event for the first time not knowing anyone because they want to change their life, personal stories of overcoming, seeing someone give it their all, seeing someone helping someone else strive to do better, seeing that smile on someone’s face after achieving their goal, seeing total strangers become the best of friends by working towards the same mission, seeing someone’s progress…Eagles from around the world have inspired me in so many different ways! It’s amazing!!”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“Team RWB has impacted my life significantly by giving me purpose and meaning of the greater good, Gandhi has a saying that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. And by doing just that I have been able to find myself again. It is by rising others up that one can rise as well. I have learned that alone we can do so little but together we can accomplish so much! Team RWB to me is family, friends, motivators, mentors, inspirational, positive…my complete ray of sunshine!”

What Would You Say to Someone Who is Thinking of Joining Team RWB?

“JOIN!! Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can only bring positivity to your life. Those feelings you have, you’re not alone and within Team RWB, you will find leaders and friends who will only want you to succeed and move forward and give you the motivation and tools to do so!! People who will push you and encourage you without judgment or doubt because they believe in you more than you might believe in yourself at the time. When that confidence grows inside you, you can then in turn pay it forward to that next Eagle who might need it…not only are we a TEAM but we are a FAMILY!”