Chapter Captain to Regional Volunteer to FTE to Parent

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5 years. Nearly 5 years ago my Team RWB journey began. During my time as an Eagle Leader, every single time I have asked, someone has been there. In my previous blog, I wrote about how Team RWB gave me the opportunity, and the confidence to be a leader. At Team RWB, we have created what we call the Eagle Leader Journey; a training program that combines in-person and online leadership development training. As I look back on my 5 years in Team RWB, and even the past two years as a full time employee, it has been quite the journey. In 2013 I started as the Chapter Captain for the Marion, IL Chapter. I look back at some of the things that our leadership team accomplished in Southern Illinois and it is incredible. In January 2015, I asked Zack Armstrong, then the Midwest Regional Director, for an opportunity to help him on his Regional Staff. I was helping him build the Midwest Region by developing Chapters and conducting training for Eagle Leaders. In February 2016, Team RWB hired me as the Leadership, Training & Retention Manager.

As part of the Eagle Leader Experience, leaders attend weekend-long leadership development experiences comprised of Eagle Leader Academies (Level I training), Camps (Level II training) and Seminars (Level III training) designed as an investment in our leaders to create better communities and ultimately a better America. We use the acronym EAGLE (empathetic, authentic, genuine, loyal and effective) to drive our leadership development and training. This method of leadership development helped me learn about who I am and how I present myself to others. Each experience I attended, each Chapter leadership meeting, each Chapter event, all have shaped the person I have become. With every journey comes with ups and downs, but with my Eagle teammates to support me along the way, it was an environment primed for growth.

One topic we discuss at these experiences is why we volunteer for Team RWB. At first, my “why” was simply because it was a positive outlet for me and it helped me accomplish personal and professional goals related to fitness and people. But over time, I discovered that my “why” was to try and cultivate the feeling of family. When my dad passed away unexpectedly in 2015, it gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important, and where I was headed. I made a lot of changes in my life following his death; some not so easy. I think it would have been even more challenging without the skills I developed at Team RWB. Team RWB gave me the skills and knowledge to have genuine conversations with people around me. Without the relationships I gained, I would have had a much more difficult time. These relationships that we gain at Team RWB are simply a continuation of those relationships we gain while serving in the military. Genuine relationships in our community is something I think everyone craves.

When I joined Team RWB in 2013, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I remember being extremely excited when that red shirt came in the mail. It has been quite the journey to where I am now. I know the journey isn’t over but recently my journey took an unexpected turn. My journey led me to meet my fiance and I have taken on a new title of stepdad. It has easily been the most rewarding part of my journey so far. But I can honestly say that learning about empathy, authenticity, being genuine to others, loyalty, and effectiveness has allowed me to be the parent, and partner that I am today.