Blog written by: Alley Smith, Veteran Engagement Director | Team RWB Central Maine
If you want to do something useful with your life, to contribute, to make a difference, and find happiness – just show up.
Over the years, I, like so many other service members, attended various military leadership and civilian leadership schools. However, none so empowering as the Northeast Team RWB Leadership Academy. I feel so grateful for the organization and to the men and women who have shared their inspiring stories of warrior resilience with me. I also feel tremendously grateful for being reminded of my worth.
I’ve been in the military for over 12 years and continue to serve in the Navy Reserve. In my civilian career, I manage a veterans’ service organization and statewide programs that assist homeless and at risk veterans and their families. I am deeply invested in promoting positive psychology, personal accountability, responsibility, holistic health and peer support.
After my last deployment in Afghanistan in 2013, I struggled immensely with survivor’s guilt and PTSD. I missed the intoxicating feeling of being at war with my shipmates and friends – and connecting with people who had virtues of honor, selflessness, loyalty, commitment, courage, and 100% Americanism. However, I found my new family, with the same virtues, when I joined Team RWB.
There was a healing and transformative power of being “connected to my community through physical fitness and social activity.” It was no longer dispiriting to be home – navigating the transition from combat. “When the vets need us, we will be there,” said Amanda Rondon the Northeast Regional Director. This is true.
In one weekend, I learned a tremendous amount about the need to feel connected to others, the need to feel authentic, and the need to do something that matters. These needs are often connected to something called self-determination theory. The leadership camp taught us that veterans are not alone and we can be part of something bigger, always. We are here for each other and connected to a remarkable civilian community that cares deeply.
Team RWB teaches Eagle Leaders to become empathetic, authentic, genuine, loyal, and effective. Leadership means you are invested in relationships. Relationships can impact each individual, the organization, community and nation in a positive way. Eagles have the ability to build strong connections with each other. Engagement is the key. Engagement happens when we challenge military members, veterans, their families and our civilian supporters to have the courage to attend one of our events. “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing that you can do is just show up,” Brene Brown.
The best way for you to see what I’m talking about is to join Team RWB. Experience it for yourself. Join a chapter, become a member, become an Eagle Leader, and allow yourself to transform into the person that you’ve always wanted to become. As Amanda Rondon challenges us, “choose courage over comfort,” and see what happens next. It is very likely that you will experience and increase in your physical, mental, emotional health. You may run or walk your first 5K, ruck, swim, bike, volunteer, or do something you never imagined. For example, this year, I ran my first ultra-marathon.