Fellow Friday – Chris Lancia
Eagle Fellow Chris Lancia found his calling in the military, but found his passion in Team RWB.
Every Team Red, White & Blue Eagle has a story – a driving force for what they do. Eagle Leader Fellow Chris Lancia’s story began in 1992, when he enlisted in the Army at 17-years-old. The former military brat had only known Army life. Nine years, five duty stations, and eight deployments later, Lancia found the transition from military to civilian life, especially while pursuing his degree, to be challenging.
“In college, I was usually the oldest student, sometimes as old as the professors. I had established a world view that wasn’t based on something I read in a book. I’d lost friends in service to our nation,” said Lancia. “It was difficult to engage with our fellow students. I never felt like I was in some way better than them, but there was no doubt I was markedly different than them.”
After graduating, Lancia worked at the Savannah Morning News as a sports reporter. At lunch one day, a group of soldiers from Hunter Army Airfield walked in. In that moment, he knew he needed the military. In 2007, six years after leaving the service, Lancia raised his right hand and took the Oath of Enlistment again. While he may have found his calling in the military, this decision also helped him find his passion in Team RWB.
“In 2012, an Eagle named Lindsay Hartig literally ran me down during a run on Fort Polk and asked me if I’d ever heard of Team RWB,” said Lancia. “She gave me the elevator pitch, and I was hooked – as was my wife, Sarah, an Army veteran whose heart I won while we were stationed together in Germany.”
Since that day, Lancia and his wife have both been members of four Team RWB chapters at various duty stations and have served as chapter leaders. In November 2018, Lancia took another step forward in Team RWB leadership and decided to apply for the Eagle Leader Fellowship.
Team RWB Fellows learn to give back and drive veteran engagement in their communities. As part of Lancia’s fellowship, he assisted in establishing a VSO (veteran service organization) Council in the Richmond area. In this role, he’s bringing together teams with the same desired end state: veterans who are supported, feel safe, and are engaged in their communities.
“I’m humbled by the chance to play a role in setting up something that will potentially impact thousands of veterans,” said Lancia.
Lancia has also taken the lead on regional events during his fellowship, which he has found to be incredibly rewarding.
“We had veterans at their first Team RWB event, and veterans trying out that activity for the first time. We had community members join us in tackling the challenge. We had the chance to ensure we showed that everybody belonged, and that we are the cure to the transitional challenges veterans face,” said Lancia.
Taking on a new challenge
Personally, Lancia continues to challenge himself alongside his team. This year, he’ll run the Army 10-Miler, coming back after a knee injury. His Eagle friends have supported him throughout his training and recovery, and will be there to cheer as he runs across the finish line.
“I sometimes wonder why so many veterans have yet to join us. I know we often make excuses about what we need, or why we stay away from something. The truth is that if you take a good, hard look in the mirror, you’ll see the reasons you stay away can be cured by joining us,” said Lancia. “Miss camaraderie or a sense of purpose? We’ve got it. Miss being part of something bigger than yourself, or need to be inspired again? Come find out and see why everyone belongs with us!”
Applications for the 2020 Eagle Leader Fellowship open October, 2019. To learn more about the Eagle Leader Fellowship and Eagle Leadership Development Program, visit teamrwb.org/programs/eagle-leadership-development-program.