For Ami Sanchez, military veterans represent the intersection of her work inside and outside her Capitol Hill office.

Sanchez, 35, is minority general counsel for the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In her spare time, she is a member of Team Red, White and Blue, a nonprofit that connects veterans through physical and social activities.

“In my official capacity, as part of my policy portfolio, I handle veterans entrepreneurship,” she said. “For me, I come from a family of Army veterans.”

Four of her eight uncles are Army veterans, she added.

“Professionally, it means a lot to me. Personally, it also means a lot to me,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez has been the committee’s general counsel since April 2009 and a member of Team Red, White and Blue for a year and half. The balancing comes easy, she said, with the volunteer work strengthening her committee work.

“You make time for it. And then, handling veterans issues, the more interactions I get with veterans in the community, the better I am at my job,” Sanchez said.

Team Red, White and Blue holds weekly activities, including runs around town and yoga classes at the Lululemon in Georgetown. They also organize social activities such as happy hours, and volunteer opportunities for members like Sanchez.

In September, Timothy Kopra, former commander of the International Space Station, held a Q&A for members. “He’s familiar with Team Red, White and Blue and wanted to give back in his way,” Sanchez said.

Whether it’s a veteran in her office or the committee’s ranking Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Sanchez said everyone is very supportive.

“Supporting veterans — no one’s against that,” she said.

Last year at the Sept. 11 memorial run, she found out that a few other staffers on the Hill are members of the group too.

“Everything leads back,” she said. “A lot of these organizations [like Team Red, White and Blue] do a lot of work with the Hill, so there’s always an opportunity to network and find people who have a direct professional correlation to what we’re doing — whether it’s appropriations or budget or the CR.”

Sanchez added, “There’s no shortage of people who are interested in what we’re doing.”

 

Source: http://www.rollcall.com/news/hoh/veterans-work-on-and-off-the-hill-for-one-staffer

 

In this podcast, we talk to best selling author and professor at the Wharton School, Dr. Jonah Berger.  He’s a thought leader on the academic side of what causes certain content to go viral, how influence plays a part in all of our lives, and we discuss how this relates to life and Team RWB.   
We cover a ton of content in this podcast, to include:

• How his book, Contagious, has influenced Team RWB

• How to get people involved

• The Invisible Influence that shapes all our lives

 

 

  

Chapter: Midwest/Dayton, OH

Member Since: September 2014

Motto: “Some people follow their dreams. Others hunt them down and beat them mercilessly into submission.” Neil Kendall

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I joined Team RWB at a time of great transition in my life, when my social support system was crumbling beneath me. At the time, the Dayton chapter had just formed, and I saw Eagles cheering each other and everyone else on at a local 10k. I thought they all seemed very positive, and friendly. I looked up Team RWB that night, and joined the Facebook group. It took me a month of social media stalking to feel comfortable attending an event, but once I did, I was hooked. I originally joined to make friends, and quickly realized that Team RWB is so much more than just a “running team.””

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

“It’s nearly impossible to choose just one – of course, the larger experiences like organizing our legs of Old Glory Relay, and the Air Force Marathon events have been incredible. However, it’s the everyday interactions that bring me the most joy. When Eagles come closer to achieving their goals, or share how their lives have been enriched through our activities, it confirms that all of the hard work is absolutely worth it. Watching the success of others unfold, and being a small part of that, is immensely rewarding.”

 

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How Do You Serve Your Community?

“I am the Chapter Captain of Team RWB Dayton, and serve as a representative of Dayton VA Voluntary Services on a Fisher House committee. I also volunteer with the Positivity Project, and have been involved with Girls on the Run, as well as local non-profit experiential education resources for elementary and middle school students.”

What Inspires You?

“People who remain positive and forge ahead despite setbacks, who remain kind in the face of hostility, and who give of themselves to others. “

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“In the 2 years since I’ve joined, my life has completely changed. As a civilian, I’ve learned more about the veteran experience, and have come to an understanding and admiration of the unique strengths veterans bring to communities. I’ve found inspiration, mentorship, family, and passion. Through so many experiences, I have become a softer and stronger leader, and learned that we all have a story. If we only find the courage to share our own, and listen to others, we’ll find that we are not so different from one other.”

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

“Dive in! There’s no pressure – come as you are, give what you have, and I promise what you’ll receive in return will be nothing short of life-changing.”

Blog written by:  Terrance Gant; Team Red, White & Blue Phoenix

I walked into the Yoga Leadership Camp a little skeptical about what was going to happen and how I was going to feel.  I mean… it’s yoga for crying out loud. But boy, was I in for a surprise.

Georgina started it off with a talk about being authentic, and her “why” for joining Team Red, White & Blue.  It really was a great way to start off the weekend because it immediately set the tone.  During her talk, I silently whispered to myself, “You better not cry.”  So much for the positive self talk.  Before I knew it, the first day was ending with some calming yoga and a group dinner.  After dinner is when things got serious.

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All the Eagles sat in a circle, and Georgina asked who wanted to share their story.  I shyly raised my hand, and the tears began to well up in my eyes.  I’ve told my story a few times in a couple different programs, but this would be the first time I would share it with someone without a military background.  My story goes something like this:

I joined the military back in 1998 under peace time.  It was so fun that on my first West Pacific deployment on the USS Pelieliu, all we did was a couple training operations and a ton of liberty in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.  I was on my second deployment when my life would dramatically change.  While on liberty in Darwin, Australia, September 11th happened.  I would go on to deploy to Afghanistan twice and Iraq three times in an 8 year period.  In 2009, I was injured and had to make a decision to move laterally to a different position or separate from the Marine Corps entirely.  I couldn’t imagine being anything other than an infantry man and leading Marines in combat.  If I couldn’t do that then I didn’t want to do anything, so I got out after 12 years of service.  That’s when the wheels started to fall off.  I found myself drinking heavily – not your normal 6-12 pack of beer, but a fifth or pint of vodka a night just to sleep without nightmares.  I was neglecting my family and ended up destroying my relationship with my ex-wife and children.   I ended up losing everything, wife, kids, and job.  I ended up homeless for three months wondering how to put my life back together.

The drinking got worse as well as my social skills.  On February 15, 2015 I tried to end my life.  My girlfriend at the time, who now has become my wife, said that I needed to get help, if not for myself than for the sake of my children.  There, the dark journey into my own soul began.  After attending numerous counselling sessions with the VA – both group and individual – I enrolled in a program called Save A Warrior (SAW).  Here, the light bulb came on.  Once I was done with SAW, I came home thinking, “What now?” Now that I have done the internal work what’s the external work?

A while later, I saw some people running with red shirts on, so I went home and Googled them and found out it was Team RWB. I signed up and, at first, just participated from afar.  When I was finally talked into doing the Tempe International Triathlon, I was hooked.  The camaraderie, es sprit de corps, and brotherhood was that missing external piece that I had been looking for.  Since then, I have jumped into the team head first and haven’t looked back.  Being the Veteran Engagement Coordinator has been the most fulfilling position I have held since separating from the Marine Corps.

I finished telling my story and there was a hush over the camp participants.  Throughout the weekend I would hear stories that even though they weren’t exactly like mine, they were stories of pain, hurt, and unfulfillment in lives.  The same thing I was encountering, just in a different manner.  What I learned that weekend at Yoga Leadership Camp can’t be taught in school.  Be authentic to yourself, genuine to others, and always have empathy and compassion because you don’t know that person’s’ story.  We all have a story to share and when we are authentic with it and genuinely in tune with others stories, we can begin to build stronger, more loving communities and Nation.

 

Eric Garcia has been lost.  After an impressive military career that included assignments with the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (Old Guard), his life took a turn for the worst.  In 2010, Eric found himself homeless, addicted, and on the way to rehab.  Just 7 months later, he started a small nonprofit to support Veterans through fitness and fellowship.  He soon found Team RWB and in the time since has been one of our very best volunteer leaders.

Today, Eric serves other Veterans as a case manager at the Salvation Army in Tampa, Florida.  He is working on a Mission Continues fellowship and will complete his degree in psychology next spring.  Eric spends his time in trenches, meeting Veterans where they are at, everyday.  His perspective is absolutely priceless.

This episode is a very raw and honest conversation that speaks to all of us.  Please take it to heart and share with your friends.