That’s what the creators of Team Red White & Blue found when they created an organization aimed at connecting veterans to their communities through physical and social activity.
It’s a lofty goal based on their estimation that 1 million troops will retire or separate from the military over the next five years, and most won’t return to their hometowns.
Chapters are popping up in big cities and densely populated areas and the veteran and civilian members run races together, do yoga or CrossFit or any kind of physical activity, as well as social activities, like bowling or barbecues.
Aaron Appelwick runs triathlons for the Air Force, and when he transferred to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Team RWB asked whether he was interested in starting up a chapter in Montana.
Today, Appelwick and some of the Team RWB members are running the Sherry Arnold Memorial Run at 9 a.m. in West Bank Park. Afterward, they’re hosting a meet and greet to give veterans and civilians a chance to learn more about the chapter.
Since he’s training all the time anyway, and still serving in the military, he said yes.
He started the chapter in August 2012 and it has grown to about 15 people, most of whom are veterans.
The idea is for veterans to get together and maintain the physical activity they did in the military, but also for civilians to interact with them in relaxed environments, he said.
“That’s the big thing that veterans are missing when they get out of active duty, they’re missing that camaraderie,” Appelwick said. “It’s a place for them to get together. It’s just about being a part of something.”
Team RWB also states that exercise and social interaction can help veterans cope with any post traumatic stress. The chapters are aimed at veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, but are open to veterans of any era, Appelwick said.
According to a 2008 study conducted by the RAND Corporation, Center for Military Health Policy Research, of 1,938 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans studied, 13.8 percent of them exhibited forms of post traumatic stress.
Right now, Appelwick is traveling the state recruiting members and raising awareness of Team RWB. Anyone can join and just about any kind of group activity can be incorporated into the chapter.
His goal is to have weekly events, but Montana is so big that it’s a challenge until they get enough members to break the state into city chapters, he said.
Source: Great Falls Tribune