Like many veterans, I had a hard time connecting with people when I left the service. I just left one of the greatest teams in the world, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and all of the bonds, camaraderie and relationships that came with it. On the surface, it looked like a successful transition as I went through MIT business school and found a well paying job on Wall Street, but underneath, I was missing my team.

So I joined a new team: Team Red, White & Blue. At first, I joined Team RWB to support my classmates who were starting the fledgling Veteran Service Organization (VSO). But looking back over my first 18 months of transition, it was exactly what I needed. First of all, it was exactly what I needed to make a healthy transition as it provided the social support to stay fit and to wake up early on Saturday mornings to run 5Ks in Icahn Stadium, rather than pull all-nighters in the city that never sleeps. But more importantly, Team RWB gave me connection and produced a relationship that would change the arc of my life.

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By Ryan McKennedy

As a junior in high school, I saw my life headed down a bad path. In an attempt to find something positive, I decided to enlist into the Illinois Army National Guard in March of 2007. The following summer before senior year was spent at Fort Benning, Georgia for Basic Training, and the summer after my senior year was spent in Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Advanced Individual Training. I didn’t join the military for any patriotic reason; I joined because and I needed something positive in my life. At the time of my enlistment, I had no intention of attending college, it was more of a selling point for my parents. After attending AIT, I spent most of 2008 working odd jobs, and then the 33rd Brigade Combat Team received orders to deploy to Afghanistan. As a human resource specialist (42A), our unit was tasked with preparing the entire brigade for deployment. As each Soldier came through my station, I felt worse and worse. My job was to process all these Soldiers for deployment, while I was doing everything I could to avoid deploying. (more…)