Ormond Beach resident Chuck Bryan lost his unit when he left the Air Force last year, but he recently found a new one with a team of fellow athletes.
Every Tuesday evening civilians, military veterans and active-duty service members gather for fun and fitness in Ormond Beach. Team Red White and Blue is a national nonprofit organization that brings together civilians and veterans returning from duty. The organization established a Daytona Beach chapter in September.
"When you look at veterans who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of them are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, not getting the treatment they need and they aren't getting reacclimated into the community," said Bryan, who served in Iraq. "That affects their personal life, ability to hold a job and their family. I'm glad to see an organization shedding light on these issues."
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs treated 400,000 veterans for PTSD in 2010. By developing relationships and a community, veterans are more likely to have healthier transitions to civilian life, said team Daytona captain Lani Faulkner. The group is open to anyone and it's free to be a member.
"This is great for the veterans but its also great for the families," Faulkner said. "Being in the military is like being in a brotherhood or a sisterhood and when they are separated from the military that's gone. This helps fill that gap."
As the race director for Daytona Beach's annual Firecracker 4 Miler race in July, Faulkner learned about Team RWB while trying to reach out to veterans to join the race. When she was asked to start the Daytona chapter, Faulkner jumped at the chance. Her father and husband are veterans and her son is in the Navy.
Team RWB meets every Tuesday but the location and the activity often change. About 30 teammates might go for a three-mile run and head to Hooligan's Irish Sports Pub in Ormond Beach afterward or go bowling. The team also runs together in local races such as the Daytona Class in Ormond Beach that took place Dec. 9. The team also holds fundraisers for veterans services and to send veterans to conferences.
On a recent Tuesday evening, team members attended a boot camp and nutrition workshop at Gold's Gym in Ormond Beach. Owner John Ward donates his gym's space and time to lead the hour-long workout.
Using step platforms, Ward coached the team through an intense interval workout, stopping only for dance breaks. Ward said that helping the program is a passion of his because it brings people together and gives them tools to make changes in their lives.
Source: News-Journal Online