My Advice to New Eagles – Get involved!

Blog written by: Jennifer S.

In November of 1999, I became a military spouse when my husband joined the Air Force.  Since then we have met amazing people, been around the world, and were given so many amazing opportunities.  Over the next 17 years, I started to gain weight despite training for marathons.  The birth of 2 children, putting a career as a physical therapist assistant on hold, a broken leg, and 10 moves were all contributing factors to my weight gain.

In 2013, we moved back to the US, after living overseas for 5 years.  We decided to continue to put my career on hold for at least 6 more months due to the new changes in our family.  We were now stationed in a Shreveport, Louisiana.  

Shreveport, Louisiana is where I was introduced to Team RWB. I was really missing all the activity groups and people from our last duty station.  My first event was attending a WOD with Warriors event.  I survived the workout and wanted to become more involved.  At first I struggled because I thought I needed to “be in better shape” before I could represent Team RWB and wear the Eagle.  The Chapter Captain encouraged me and explained that the group wasn’t about that – it was about connecting veterans to the community through physical and social opportunities. It was about providing opportunities and being consistent and being around regular people (like me).  Soon I found myself leading 2 run/walks a week, organizing an informational table at the bimonthly Information Fair and helping with community outreach.  One of my biggest projects was working on the 9-11 Sunrise to Sunset Flag Run.   The whole experience was inspiring, rewarding and humbling – such an amazing and simple way to give back to those who have given so much!  

Shortly after our move to Louisiana my husband deployed to Afghanistan – we were all thankful we had put my returning to work on hold!  I believe being involved in Team RWB definitely helped me through this deployment and helped me and my two teenagers still adjusting to the move.  I truly hope my involvement helped veterans during this time – whether it was introducing them to Team RWB at the information fair, providing other Eagles an ear, or just making sure there were snacks available at an event.  Near the end of my husband’s deployment we learned we’d be moving again after only 15 short months in Louisiana to Hawaii?

In Hawaii, I really wanted to take advantage of all that Team RWB had to offer – I was immediately impressed by the activities and calendar; however, wasn’t able to participate in many events due to my family obligations.  Around this time, I started to get involved in CrossFit and started to work on my running goals.  My Crossfit box was starting a ‘New You’ program and during this time I also wanted to be more involved with Team RWB and balance the needs of my kids, and “my” veteran. I decided if I wanted to get more involved Team RWB and its mission, I would need to host events again.  I decided to put myself out there and hope there would be interested Eagles.  Hawaii has been the first place I have been able to get my husband to come out to a Team RWB event.  He tends to be one of those veterans, like so many I speak to, who thinks he is “just doing his job” and doesn’t want any attention. He has enjoyed the team atmosphere and camaraderie and how the mission is to connect Eagles to the community.

Currently, I am hosting a run/walk three times a week at Central Oahu Regional Park.  Our running group is small, but we have a great time talking and telling stories.  I have realized that I started this run/walk group to help other Eagles, but this group has helped me in the process.  If this small run/walk group has helped a veteran ½ as much as it has helped me then I think this group was a success.   Sometimes showing up to an activity is 75% of the battle.  Knowing people are going to be there, and are counting on you can give you the encouragement you need to start.

My advice to new Eagles:  Get involved! Attend, host, do what you have dreamed of – maybe what you thought you never could!  “Dead last beats did not finish; which trumps did not start.” Anonymous.   I believe you can do it and Team RWB is there to support and encourage you – jump on the opportunities to connect, grow and be healthier! 17 years ago when I became part of the military family I never dreamed I would finish a ½ marathon, let alone a full marathon – and I definitely never thought I would focus on anything other than finishing, yet here I am working on getting faster, improving my finish times and the best part it is more fun now than ever thanks to Team RWB