David Oclander is a retired Army officer, who felt moved to dedicate his post-military life to inner city education.  He’s been a teacher and administrator in both Chicago and Detroit, and is working hard to shape our education system in America.

In this week’s episode, we talk about his experiences, as well as some of his views on the American education system, as well as:

• The importance of physical activity at school

• How adults can be the biggest impediment to kids learning

• Trust between teachers and kids, and why it’s critical

David is an amazing person, and incredibly inspirational!  We’re excited to bring you this episode!

 

  

Chapter: Team RWB Fort Hood

Member Since: March 2014

Motto: “Pay It Forward”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I returned from my deployment in Afghanistan January 2014 and my unit was disbanded and spread throughout Fort Hood. I felt lost and fell into depression, seeing that Fort Hood was my first duty station which I arrived at three months prior to deploying. My friend was involved in the RWB Pensacola FL Chapter and strongly suggested I tried out Fort Hood RWB. I eventually went to a mud run event with RWB then to dinner. I saw the camaraderie of the group and knew it was a big factor I missed from my disbanded unit. I started to attend running events which I hated at first but then was hooked on running. Running with my Eagle family became the medicine and therapy I needed and I soon began telling everyone at my new unit about RWB where others began joining as well.”

RWB 1

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

“My most heart filled experience with Team RWB has been Snowdrop 55 Hour Race/Relay 100 Miler. RWB has become my family, more than some of my own blood family. I’m very close with RWB Houston members. In 2015-2016 I did not finish the 100 miler and was broken, RWB was there to lift me up and point out how far I came. This year RWB crewed for me, stretched, cried, fed, and everything for me. One gave me the shirt literally off of her back and one gave me literally the shoes that were on her feet, all to help me reach that 100 mile goal. But you see, to me and my RWB family, it was so much more than reaching 100 miles. 2016 was an extremely hard year where my life almost came to an end and my RWB family helped bring me through that time and reaching that finish line capped the year with how much growth I had achieved. When I crossed that finish line, my RWB family cried tears of pride and love for me. In the race, just like in life, your friends can support you, but you have to do to work. I realized what my RWB family knew all along, the strength I carried within myself.”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“I’m very vocal about everything RWB offers and I bring that into my work environment in the military. I participate in races that benefit charities such as the Snowdrop Foundation. I led the Fort Hood book club and post the daily Pledge of Allegiance. I participate in weekly walk/run RWB activities throughout the community. I coordinated and volunteered with the MWR on Fort Hood that held 5K races where we would help with registration and road blocks, set up and break down. More importantly, I serve my community by sharing my story with strangers that need a light. RWB has been a light for me and I pay that forward for others to at some point get to a place where they can shine their light as well.

RWB 3

What Inspires You?

“What inspires me is seeing people achieve what they once thought was impossible for them, and to see the transformation they go through during that time.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“RWB has literally saved my life. I have struggled with depression at times and went to a very dark place where I didn’t think I was going to climb out of. RWB reached out to me, they grabbed my hands and helped pull me out of the pit. Without my RWB family, I don’t believe I would be here today. I will forever be grateful for RWB.”

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

“ABSOLUTELY DO IT!!! RWB is the kind of family everyone needs. We offer acceptance, love, an ear to listen, physical and social activity. We’re a pretty awesome family.”

 

It is hard to find a story, or a person, more inspiring than Lisa Hallett.  In 2009, her late husband John was killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, John’s unit suffered numerous casualties during that deployment, leaving the entire community stunned and hurting.  With three very small children and a heavy heart, Lisa knew that she had to find a way to move forward.

Lisa and some of the family members around Joint Base Lewis-McCord used running as a way of dealing with grief and supporting each other.  In 2010, Lisa and her co-founder, Erin O’Connor, started wear blue: run to remember.  The organization aims to create a support network for military members and their families and to provide a living memorial for our country’s fallen.

We have a great conversation covers the founding story of wear blue, the importance of honoring and remembering, and so much more.  Lisa is brave woman that is doing her part to make the world a better place, and we’re proud to call her a friend.

 

  

Blog written by: Casey McCabe

Three years ago, I was lost.

I had been through a really rough patch in life, and I was struggling. I had anxiety, I was hurting, grieving and scared. I missed the military. I missed the Army. I felt so alone. I had to pick up the pieces, and put my life back together.

I am a victim of Domestic Violence. I hate the word ‘victim’. I already felt ashamed and embarrassed, and then I was given a label. Running soon became a building block to getting my life back on track. My former husband instilled fear in me so that I was afraid to speak up. He used threats and intimidation to scare and control me. He made me feel like I could not make decisions for myself, because he constantly criticized and insulted me. My ex-husband threatened and bullied me, and he treated our son the same way. He humiliated me in front of family and friends. He made me afraid to disagree with him, afraid to speak up or and stand up for myself. He frequently put me down, made me feel inadequate, a failure. He withheld money for food and other basic needs. I starved myself, so I could provide milk and diapers for my son. My ex-husband withheld love and affection for our son and I. He made all decisions for me, including financial. He restricted and controlled where I went, who I talked to, who I could see. He isolated me from family members and friends, and would not allow me to contact them. He caused me to fear my safety in many ways.

When I initially left my ex-husband, I had $0.00 to my name and I was homeless. I stayed in a woman’s shelter. I had my son with me, and I was scared. My son was only 15 months old at the time. Being in the shelter, with other women, made me realize I am not alone. There are many people who are suffering.

In early 2014, I joined Team RWB, an organization that helps military veterans transition back to civilian life through physical and social activities. My first Team RWB running event was life changing, and I came back weekly, over and over again. I remember the very first day I showed up to my first Team RWB event I was shaking because I was so nervous and anxious. It was my first baby step in creating a new life for myself, and my son. Running soon became my outlet. My outlet for stress, anxiety, fear, and so much more. It is incredible, the positive impact Team RWB has on people’s lives. We all come from different walks of life, but together, we are united as one. I love the feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself. Team RWB is changing people’s lives, it is a movement, a community, and it is growing every day. I am thankful for the support Team RWB has provided for me.

My ex-husband left me with thousands of dollars of debt. I am now debt free. I work full time, I am in school full time and I am a mom. I wear many different hats. I now have the courage to take baby steps. Something as simple as getting out of bed, making my bed, brushing my teeth. Little improvements every day, while bringing balance to life. I will graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in 2017. I applied for, and received, a promotion at work. I have completed my first half marathon.

I want to be an advocate for others. I want to be the voice, and show people that it’s okay to feel broken. The important thing is to not give up, life goes on. I realize now I can accomplish anything. I have come a long way from being the girl who was afraid of everything and everyone.

You can’t change the past, but you can come to terms with it. It’s not easy. There may be something you wish you’d done differently. Everyone has regrets. If we stop focusing so much on what we didn’t do, we have the chance to explore what we did do. Revel in what you’ve achieved, and let go of what didn’t work out as you hoped. When you clear the air of regretful hindsight, you’ll also clear the path ahead – which can lead to something wonderful.

Grief looks different on everyone. It isn’t just death we grieve, its life. It’s loss. It’s change. We have to remember life is about change. That’s how you stay alive. I woke up one day, and I realized I didn’t want to play the victim anymore. I knew I had to forgive my ex-husband, and that definitely wasn’t easy. Once I forgave him, I realized I could start working on bettering myself. Tragedies can strengthen a person or destroy them. What matters is how the person responds, what they do with the life they have in front of them.

Sometimes you have to battle with yourself to do something new, and the trauma I experienced is helping me win that battle. I now have more self-confidence. It’s a newfound, everyday kind of confidence that comes with that sense of achievement you get by doing something positive. My son is my motivation to always improve and to be a good example. He is my driving force for being successful.

I will not let the word Victim define me anymore.

Chapter: Team RWB Pacific / San Diego Chapter Captain

Member Since: 2014

Motto: “A bad day can change in to a great one, as fast as you can change your attitude.”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I loved running and hiking, coming back to San Diego from a 4.5 year incarceration I was very isolated and felt very uncomfortable around people. Although I still didn’t feel all that more comfortable in a group of Veterans, I was comfortable enough to at least give it a shot. I thought the worse that was gonna happen was I would just totally ignore everyone and just run or hike. On my first hiking event, I was taken back by how easily it was to relate to my fellow Eagles. After a couple more events I connected with several Veterans from all branches and all ages who seem to have been going through some of the same struggles. That is when I realized I found my community.”

IMG_5257 (1)

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

“Running with the RWB led Health and Wellness program at Veteran Village of San Diego (VVSD) has by far been my favorite experience. I was a homeless Veteran who sought help through VVSD, which was also where I got connected with RWB. RWB having made such a huge impact, I wanted to share with my fellow Veterans the experiences and opportunities that were afforded to me. Getting to know all the Veterans who reside their now, seeing the smiles, and the kind of energy the H&W program brings is amazing and inspiring at the same time.Since I have been assisting with the program, countless number of Veterans come up to shake my hand and tell me how much they have improved physically, I have paced a 53 year old Army Veteran for his first Half Marathon, and have seen so many lives improve all around from simply running with a good group of people.”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“Aside from volunteering with the H&W program at VVSD, I also sit on a board for an event called Stand Down which is a 3 day event for homeless veterans where we provide a safe place to eat, sleep, and shower. In addition participants get connected with multiple organizations from AA programs to housing programs, plus all aspects of health can be addressed through the VA and volunteer healthcare providers. A whole year of planning goes into this to insure we provide as much as possible to the Veterans in need. I also serve as a peer mentor to combat Veterans who suffer from PTS, which actually helps me just as much as it helps them.

What Inspires You?

“I am inspired by the world around me. I have learned to seek inspiration everyday to keep life exciting. Some days I am inspired by my clients who put their trust into me and step out of their comfort zone in attempt to achieve a goal. Other days I am inspired by public figures such as Collin Powell, who through much adversity became a distinguished political figure that assisted in many historical American events. My life has not been very easy for reasons that I caused and reasons totally out of my control. My biggest inspiration is my community, growing up I never saw how powerful a community could be when working together. Seeing my community not only work together to help me out of the darkness but so many others around me, generates a passion which drives me to want to be part of that community. To help others.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“RWB has impacted my life in several different ways. Being part of the Veteran community was my first stepping stone into interacting with the whole community. My life today is pretty much thanks to the people I have met in team RWB; my roommates are Eagles, my employer is an Eagle, all my friends and network are tied to the Eagles in one shape or form. As part of the leadership team I have learned or honed leadership skills that help me in my everyday life. I love the fact that i can walk around San Diego without an Eagle on and always seem to be recognized as “Hey, you’re Rod, the RWB guy.””

epicrod

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

“I would say that RWB is not just a running group, RWB is a community who happens to like running, and hiking, and working out, drinking coffee, kayaking, rock climbing, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff. There are no dues, fees or requirements to join, just sign up and and show up! “