Lieutenant General (Retired) Mike Linnington is a pretty incredible person.  After a tremendous 35 year long career in the Army, he transitioned to the nonprofit sector and took the helm at the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), which was the subject of some  public controversy at the time (early 2016).  His leadership has been critical, and WWP is really serving Veterans and military families in a big way.

In this episode we discuss:

• His career in the military, and service in his family

• Transition from a 35 year military career to the nonprofit world

• What he found when he showed up to WWP, post controversy

• The changes they’ve made, and what WWP is up to now

 

  

By Dan Brostek, Director of Marketing and Communications

Since 2014, Brandon Young has served as the Director of Development for Team Red, White & Blue, developing and maintaining strategic partnerships and identifying growth opportunities to ensure the success of veteran enriching programs.  Over those three and a half years, Brandon has completely dedicated himself to Team RWB and Eagle Nation and I’ve been able to witness firsthand the impact he has on had on this organization at every level.  From the strategic relationships he shaped…to the community he impacted as a Chapter Captain in Denver…to the individual lives of both veterans and civilians he touches on a daily basis, his presence is always felt and will surely be missed.  This quote epitomizes Brandon’s personal mission as both a veteran and Team RWB employee.

“I work with and for veterans every day and it is one of the greatest honors of my life. I humbly submit that veterans are the leaders America is reaching for right now… Today, as veterans, we have the opportunity to speak our minds. To opt in or out on a topic. Our countrymen are starving to hear from us and in some respects, we have a responsibility to them still, to serve and to lead.” – Brandon Young

Skiing

Brandon’s experience in the Army and Corporate America provided an amazing foundation of knowledge and experience that helped Team RWB become what it is today.  Brandon enlisted in the U.S. Army directly out of high school, serving 11 years, primarily with the 2nd Ranger Battalion and 75th Ranger Regiment. He conducted 4 combat rotations to Afghanistan and competed in the 2006 Best Ranger Competition, placing 3rd with his partner. He’s conducted Special Operations missions in support of the Global War on Terror, and was the Operations Planner and Personal Security Detachment to the Commanding General of West Point during his last deployment. Upon leaving the military, Brandon spent the next six years with Quest Diagnostics in Cancer Diagnostics and Commercial Leadership.

“I have seen Team RWB blossom from a young, hungry movement into a sustainable impact organization enriching veterans lives across the country. We have grown to over 125k members, 217 locations and begun a compelling body of research to uncover insights that will ultimately serve veterans, military families and all Americans through improved health, authentic relationships and sense of purpose. I am so proud to have been a part of this journey!” – Brandon Young

July 31st, 2017 will mark Brandon’s last day with Team RWB to pursue an opportunity of service with another community.  Effective August 15th, Brandon will become the first Chief Advancement Officer for the Tennyson Center for Children, serving severely abused, neglected, and traumatized kids in Colorado.

“In the coming years, we will reimagine the way we serve youth in crisis, inspire and empower them to live full lives and then give away the model to any state that chooses to replicate success. Additionally, I will fully embrace the opportunity to be home with Kelly, Jaden and Elliot (every night) after a 20-year career full of travel.” – Brandon Young

Brandon has been my battle buddy since I joined Team RWB over two years ago. We’ve worked closely on a variety of initiatives, talked shop all the time…and discussed personal challenges we’ve faced within our own lives.  Brandon is more than a colleague. He has become a dear friend that I admire and seek advice from on a continuous basis.  I know I speak for Eagle Nation when I say, “Thank You!” for everything you have done for our team and America’s veterans.  Godspeed, brother! We wish you and your family the best of luck in your future endeavors.  We know you won’t be too far away…and will always continue to rock the Eagle!

OGR

For those of you that may not know Brandon as well as I do, he has contributed a significant amount of thought leadership to the veteran space. These are just a few examples of powerful pieces that Brandon has written through the years.  Definitely check them out if you haven’t had a chance.

 

 

 

Chapter: Team RWB Atlanta

Member Since: 2013

Motto: “Life is short. Don’t let anyone stop you. Unless it’s a cop, then pull over.”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I joined Team RWB back in the Spring of 2013, but didn’t sign up online until 2014. I had seen the tent at many of the same events I went to in San Diego. After a race, I got the courage to ask what they were all about. I loved that they were family friendly, and the people were sincere, genuine. They helped me find myself again. Before I knew it, I was climbing mountains in the morning, walking trails and trying to persuade other veterans to join in. ( By the way, very few wanted to get up at 5am and got climb a mountain to see the sunrise. Ha ha. They said they preferred to see the pictures! 🙂  It’s great camaraderie. They helped me develop my passion for service. Joining was one of the best things I could have done for myself.”

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

“I have to say my favorite experience is an overnight camping trip we did with RWB San Diego. We had it at the Horse of the Sun Ranch. They specialize in helping veterans with PTSD, among other things. It was a family event the weekend of Father’s Day. There were horses, horse shoe games, archery and hiking. Also, some water games. It was so much fun! At night, they put up a screen and projector so the kids could watch a movie. I am so greatful they hosted our Team!!”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“Helping my community has been a passion of mine. Currently, I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and The Woodstock Police Department. Service before self. I know it’s cheesy and people hear that a lot, but I truly believe in it. It brings me such joy helping others. You pour your heart, sweat and sometimes blood into making the Habitat houses. Every home owner is different and has their own story. It’s amazing to watch them in their house at the end and know you helped make their dream a reality. As a volunteer for the police department, I try to spread a good image of the department. So many people have a negative view of the police, because of some bad apples. Not every police officer is bad. I want people to know that by seeing it. Even if it is in my community, these people can travel and carry that good image with them. I also love making care packages, fulfilling those little angel wishes during Christmas season and making holiday packages for the seniors at the senior center. Every week my kids and I drive to the police station and firehouse to deliver treats, or baked goods. It helps them develop a relationship with them. Although, secretly I think they just go for the hugs and to sit in the cars and trucks. 🙂

What Inspires You?

“My children are my biggest inspirations. Everything I do is for them. I want them to learn good things from me. When I fail at something, they see it. However, they also see me get back up and try even harder. I want them to know it’s ok if something doesn’t always turn out the way you wanted it to, you just have to see the positive side to it. The only thing stopping them is themselves. Some things just require a little more work than others.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“I think the biggest impact Team RWB has made in my life are the connections I have made. I have friends all over the country, both veterans and civilians whom I would never have known otherwise. It has given me a new purpose and really opened my eyes to serving my community and organizations in different ways. Team RWB has connected me with many resources to help others, and myself.

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

“Join! Do it! I have met some of the best people here. It doesn’t matter how fit you are. No one will pressure you into running 3 miles. So don’t let the fitness portion scare you off. Everything can be done at your pace. If you can’t do large crowds, this is the perfect setting. Meet a few members once a week or once a month. Go walking with them or go for coffee. Be their cheerleader or the grill master at the finish line. Just be there. Life is to short to let it pass you by. Spend it with some great people. P.S. If you find a grill master in your area, never let them go!”

 

Spencer Kympton is the president of The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit that urges Veterans to continue serving in their communities.  He is also an Army Veterans and former Blackhawk pilot.

Spencer brings a very unique and important perspective to our field, as his professional career has spanned the military, private sector, and multiple areas of the nonprofit sector.  He is as smart and informed on Veteran and community issues as anybody in the country.

We have a in-depth conversation to focuses mainly on the value of service in all of its forms.  We talk about:

 The decline in civic engagement and what we can do about it

 The potential for a national service commitment for young Americans

 How societies benefit from having and engaged population

 And so much more…

  

Chapter: Team RWB Midwest/Lansing

Member Since: April 2013

Motto: “I may not be fast, but I will finish!”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I saw somewhere on social media that friend of friend of mine was wearing a Team RWB shirt and that they were doing some kind of special event (I believe they had gotten tickets to a basketball game) and I was intrigued by what Team RWB was. I did a Google search and found the website and signed up not knowing what would come of it.”

IMG_0918

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

“It is really hard to pinpoint one experience that has been my favorite. I have participated in a RAGNAR with the team and also went with the Ann Arbor Chapter on a trip to Chicago for a Kill That 5K GORUCK, however, I would have to say that my favorite experience is when Lansing was recognized as an organizing area and we held our first WOD With Warriors for Veterans day in 2015. The support from the community, the box and the turnout of Eagles was amazing.”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“Outside of Team RWB I serve in my local community by helping with my kids sports (football and wrestling) and I also run the Alma College scoreboards for basketball and football.

What Inspires You?

“I am inspired by people that are willing to try something new. This has happened quite a bit in Team RWB where people have never tried something or were scared or intimidated to do it but with the support of the team and others doing it with them they do it.”

IMG_0920

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“Team RWB has impacted my life in several ways. First, I would say that I have made some very good friends in the team that extends outside of Team RWB events. Also, being involved with the team has helped me do things that I would have never done physically. I run more, ruck, do Spartan Races, yoga and am more open to try something new. Lastly, the team gives me a purpose, I know how Team RWB has helped me and I have seen how it’s enriched the lives of others and I want to get that to as many people as possible.

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

“Just Do It! There’s no risk in joining the team and it is what you make out of it. You can be highly involved or involved very little but I know if you come out to one event you will want to do another.”