Chapter: Bryan/College Station

Member Since: May 2016

Motto: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I joined because of the friendship and leadership I experienced at the first softball game a filled in for. As I learned more about what RWB stood for and did I knew I had to get involved even more. God was showing me that this is where I can help others and bring a positive light to those who served our country. I love what RWB stands for enriching veterans life through social and physical activates. Building and maintaining partnership with veterans and the community. I wanted to show my son the little effort it takes to appreciate and care for others. To show him how to honor and appreciate those who serve and have served our country and community.”

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

“I would have to say that my favorite experience was and still is getting to meet members from other chapters, I traveled to St. Louis in September 2016 and met a few members a Scott Air Force Base. I love how welcoming and friendly other members are. The best experience was coming together for the Watermelon Run for the Fallen and the Old Glory Relay. To see so many different chapters come together to honor the fallen and to honor this country in such a memorable way.”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“Through building and maintaining relationships with members in our community military and law enforcement fields.

What Inspires You?

“God, my son, the smile of others faces when they accomplish something they never thought they could. I enjoy encouraging others and pushing them beyond what they think they can accomplish.”

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How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“I have grown a deeper appreciation for veterans and active military personnel. I have personally learned the impact of war on individuals on so many different levels and even learned how strong I could be for others. I have helped a member through suicidal thoughts and PTSD flash backs. I will never forget the time in late October 2016 a member told me that it was because of my inspirational messages and caring heart that saved his life. He was to the point that he was going to end it and at that very moment I had sent them a bible verse that took them out of a trans and realized life was worth living. This member is doing great today and has since sought out help. Moments like these is why I joined Team RWB.

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

“Do it! There are so many opportunities for you to serve this community and to get involved with other veterans and civilians.”

 

Team RWB’s Director of Research, Caroline Angel R.N., Ph.D, is a Masters prepared psychiatric mental health nurse who holds a PhD in Nursing and Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently a visiting professor at Cambridge University.  Her research has focused on post traumatic stress, shame, forgiveness, health, and mortality.  

In this episode we discuss:

• Outputs vs. Outcomes, and understanding the differences.

• Measuring impact on ideas/concepts vs. tangible items.

• What it means to enrich a life.

• How being a volunteer has changed her perspective on research.

Caroline and the rest of our team have worked hard alongside IVMF to prepare this Annual Survey.  We want to impact the lives of all of our members in a major way – please help your fellow Eagles (and us) by taking the survey!

 

  

Chapter: Team RWB Raleigh/Durham

Member Since: 2015

Motto: “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Why Did You Join Team RWB?

“I spent 24 years serving in the AD Navy and Air National Guard with 2 deployments to Operation Desert Shield and Storm. I retired in 1999 while I was still living in California. I felt somewhat isolated as most of my non military friends didn’t have any clue what it was like to serve. Though we had some things in common the most important things like dedication, sacrifice, camaraderie, and service were missing. I was feeling the loss of my fellow military friends. I had no idea Team RWB existed until I found it accidentally on the internet. It looked like something I wanted to be a part of. I didn’t join just yet as I noticed the focus seemed to be on running and I was a “turtle” runner. Many years later I moved to N. Carolina, found Team RWB in my local area, and joined up. Our chapter was dormant at the time I joined but with new leadership we have bloomed!”

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

“This is a tough answer as there are so many great experiences. I think one is when we helped a local veteran with disabilities complete the St. Paddy’s 8K. I was one of the 3 photographers who ran around the course to capture all his memories of that run. The 16 mile tribute to the Marines and Navy Corpsmen is another that stands out. No one is forgotten… ever. My greatest experience is just being part of this amazing organization and realizing that we are all in this together, every person matters, and no one cares how slow or fast you are. We are a family who foster relationships with each other in and out of Team RWB events.”

How Do You Serve Your Community?

“I am a part of a 3-person group of veterans who developed our own veteran oral history project in N. Carolina. We have completed nearly 500 oral histories of veterans from the World War 2 era to current time. The oral histories are housed at UNC Southern Historical Life Center. We do this for free and give our veterans as many DVD’s as they like for free. I currently serve as the Sr. Vice CDR of the VFW in Durham. We sponsor Bingo at the long term care center at the VA two Tuesday a month and we visit patients once a month. I am the Veteran Engagement Director of the Raleigh/Durham Chapter and have developed relationships with many different area veteran groups and the Raleigh and Durham National Guard units. I teach impromptu painting classes for free and I paint pictures and gift them to veterans at no cost.

What Inspires You?

“People inspire me. With all the negativity in our country right now, I devote my life to seeing the positive in everyone. I love talking to new people and finding common ground. Painting inspires me. It is my space for solitude where I can tune out, unwind, and create. Team RWB inspires me. The diversity, the community, the veterans, the age differences, the support; it is an amazing group of individuals inspired to support each other as a group.”

How Has Team RWB Impacted Your Life?

“I can’t even begin to tell you how Team RWB has impacted my life. In my life I have simultaneously worked in 3 different careers; Trauma nursing, military evac medicine, and as a reserve police officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. I have seen war, riots, and death. I spent time in a very dark place. I was seeing a constant slide show of dead, injured, shot, stabbed, and traumatized human beings. People who know me see that I always have my happy face on, but in the background things weren’t so happy. Team RWB has reinvented my whole life. Though my fellow Team RWB members may not know my particular demons, the team as an inclusive, active community have uplifted my life by sharing and embracing all of our experiences.. There is so much fun, camaraderie, relationships, and happiness the slide show is almost non existent now.

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

“I tell everyone Team RWB is the best thing that ever happened to me. If you want to experience an awesome group of people who are all inclusive and active, this is where you want to be.”

 

Brennan Mullaney is Team RWB’s Deputy Director and an original Eagle.  Over the past 6 years, he has served in a number of different roles within the organization.  Once the Boston chapter captain, Brennan became Team RWB’s 4th employee back in 2013.  Since then, he has worn many hats including: Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, DC chapter captain, and ‘our guy in DC’!

On this week’s podcast, we have a great conversation about:

• Balancing our expectations with reality

• The importance of taking some time reflect

• The future of Team RWB

• Surfing…and much more

Brennan is an amazing leader and we’re very fortunate to have him guiding the way.  He’s got great perspective and it was a blast having him on this episode!

 

  

Blog written by: David Chrisinger

An Afghan war veteran named James Clark recently wrote an article for Task and Purpose on fictional military leaders he’d gladly follow into combat. One of the leaders he highlighted was Saving Private Ryan’s Captain John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, because Captain Miller was a “quiet, humble, and self-assured commander” who doesn’t ask his men to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. “That’s a leader,” Clark concludes.

I agree, of course, but Clark left out what I think is Captain Miller’s most important skill as a leader. Above all else, Captain Miller is a tremendous storyteller. He understands the power of storytelling and uses his own story to inspire action and provide hope to his men when it seemed nothing could bring them back from the brink of despair.

Allow me to explain. When we first meet Captain Miller, we see how experienced and competent he is. “Move fast and clear those murder holes,” he yells over the din of ocean and machine as he and his men approach the beach on D-Day. “Keep the sand out of your weapons. Keep those actions clear,” he reminds them. “I’ll see you on the beach.” Then the ramp drops and the first three or four rows of men are almost instantly mowed down by the German machine gunners on the ridge above the water. “Over the side!” Miller orders.

Me and Joe at TWH

Once Miller finally reaches the sea wall in front of the German fortifications, his mind clears. “Who is in command here?” he asks. A soldier to his right responds: “You are, Sir.” No one is where they are supposed to be. The armor hasn’t made it onto the beach. Nothing is going as planned. “Gather weapons and ammo,” he orders. Then he calls for the Bangalores so they can blow a hole through the German defensive fence at the top of the sea wall.

Once he and his men move behind some cover, Miller orders a few of his men to rush an impact crater where they might have enough cover to take out the machine gun nest that is pinning them down. We don’t see what happens to these men, but we are led to believe they didn’t make it when Sergeant Horvath says, “It’s a Goddamn firing squad.” Captain Miller replies, “It’s the only way we can get everybody the hell out of here.” The second group Captain Miller sends doesn’t make it either, so he calls on Jackson, the sniper. But before sending him out, Miller exposes himself to the machine gunners, drawing their fire long enough for Jackson to scramble into the crater, where he takes two clean shots at the machine gun crew. “If your mother saw you do that,” Horvath tells Miller, “she’d be very upset.” With the crew eliminated, the rangers are in business.

The mission that day was clear: Get off the beach or die.

A day or two later, Captain Miller is given another tough assignment—one “straight from the top”—though the mission isn’t as clear as it first may seem. He learns that he and a small squad of his choosing must find a Private James Francis Ryan whose three brothers have all been killed in combat. After finding Ryan, they’re to bring him back so he can go home to his grieving mother. “It’s like finding a needle in a stack of needles,” Miller tells Horvath.

While on patrol, we learn the men don’t know much about the Captain. We later learn there’s a pool with a prize of $300 to the man who figures out where he is from.

We also hear the first grumblings about the mission from the men. It’s not clear why they’re doing what they’re doing. “You want to explain the math of this to me?” a soldier named Reiben asks. “Where’s the sense in risking the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?” The medic tells Reiben to think about Ryan’s mother, but that logic doesn’t add up. We all got mothers, Reiben says. “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die,” another soldier responds, quoting Alfred Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” That argument doesn’t seem to work either. Then Miller weighs in: “We all have orders, and we have to follow them.” Even when they don’t make sense, Reiben responds. Especially, says Miller.

Reiben then asks if the Captain ever gripes. Yes, he says. But he doesn’t gripe down, he always gripes up. That’s the way it works. Reiben then asks what Miller would say if Reiben was a Major, and Miller responds: “I’d say this is an excellent mission, sir, with an extremely valuable objective, sir, worthy of my best efforts, sir. Moreover, I feel heartfelt sorrow for the mother of Private James Ryan and am willing to lay down my life and the lives of my men, especially you, Reiben, to ease her suffering.” Captain Miller gets a laugh, but he doesn’t get buy-in. The story he’s told about this mission—the “why are we here?” story—isn’t good enough.

When the men finally reach Neuville, a small French village not far from the Normandy beaches, they find rain and heavy fighting. Caparzo, one of the men in Miller’s squad, deviates from the mission to help a family who’s caught in the crossfire. This decision ultimately costs him his life. “They want us to take the children,” Upham translates. When Miller orders Caparzo to give the family’s young daughter back, Caparzo says, “The decent thing to do is to at least take her down the road to the next town.” Miller is frustrated by Caparzo’s insubordination, even if he realizes Caparzo has the purest of intentions. “We’re not here to do the decent thing,” he says before yanking the child out of his arms. “We’re here to follow fuckin’ orders!” Again, because the mission is unclear, the men aren’t sure what they’re supposed to do. Then a shot rings out and Caparzo is down.

Later that night, Miller and Horvath are talking in a bombed-out church over a cup of coffee. “When you end up killing one of your men,” Miller says, “you tell yourself it happened so you could save the lives of two or three or ten others. Maybe 100 others.” Miller then confides that he’s lost 94 men under his command since Kasserine Pass in Northern Africa and that he justifies this to himself by saying he saved the lives of ten times as many. “And that’s how simple it is. That’s how you rationalize making the choice between the mission and the man.” But with Private Ryan, things are different. The mission is the man.

The next day, Miller’s squad comes across a German machine gun nest, and Miller decides to assault it. When one of the men, Mellish, says it’s not their objective to take out this machine gun—that it won’t help them complete their mission—Miller snaps back that their objective is to win the war.

Let’s take stock. First, the mission is to find Ryan because the men have orders. Because the men haven’t bought into that story, Caparzo makes a costly error. Now Mellish feels strongly they can accomplish the mission—to find Ryan—without subjecting themselves to undue risk, but Miller changes the mission.

During the assault, the squad’s medic is fatally wounded, and the men also capture a German soldier. When Miller decides to cut the POW loose, the squad’s discipline dissolves. Reiben threatens to abandon the mission, and Horvath draws his pistol and threatens to shoot him for desertion.

Just when the tension reaches a fever pitch, Miller asks the men a simple question: “What’s the pool on me up to?” He tells the men he’s a school teacher from Pennsylvania who coaches baseball in the spring. “Sometimes I wonder,” he says, “if I’ve changed so much my wife is even going to recognize me whenever it is I get back to her.”

Then he says he doesn’t much care about Ryan: “The man means nothing to me.” But if bringing him home earns Miller the right to go home, then “that’s my mission,” he says.

For the first time since D-Day, the men have a clear understanding of their mission—to bring Ryan home so that they can go home, too. Reiben then decides to stay. Why? Because he and the rest of the men finally know two things. They know who Captain Miller is, and they know why he’s there.

Who are you? Why are you here? There may come a time when you’ll need to tell a story that answers those two questions. Will you be ready?

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David Chrisinger believes everyone has a story, and he’s dedicated his life to helping people find and share their story in a way that leads to understanding and connection. He serves as a Midwest Coordinator for Team RWB and is the lead instructor for Storytelling Camp. In 2016, David edited a collection of essays written by student veterans titled See Me for Who I Am and is editing a similar collection of stories written by Team RWB leaders from around the country.