Fellow Friday – Christina Smythe
Inspired by her family’s service, Christina Smythe finds a sense of community volunteering with Team RWB
For many military families, a strong sense of community can be critical when stationed far from home. Army spouse Christina Smythe, found that sense of community as a result of volunteering with Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB) while stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in 2012.
Smythe was raised in a military family. Her father served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 27 years and shared military values of integrity, courage, and respect for those who serve, with her from a young age. Her father and husband’s service originally inspired her and encouraged her to begin volunteering to support military units, families, and spouses in both official and unofficial roles.
When Christina first joined Team RWB at JBLM, she played a supportive volunteer role in establishing an official chapter. When she later moved to Fort Huachuca, AZ, Smythe continued to serve by accepting the position of volunteer Chapter Captain.
“As a military spouse, there’s always a need to feel like we belong and have a sense of purpose,” said Smythe. “Team RWB helped me find that immediately, as the team welcomed me and my family and provided opportunities to enrich the lives of those around me.”
Team RWB’s mission, vision and the potential to have a real impact on the lives of others were the first reasons that Smythe decided to volunteer, but along the way she began to develop her own sense of community and belonging within the organization.
“Many things have inspired me to serve as an Eagle Leader, including our mission, a transformational purpose, the possibility to have and create an impact, implementing my passion for people, and to inspire those around me,” said Smythe. “That list is long and incredibly personal, and each of these aspirations has been met or exceeded during my time as an Eagle Leader. Leading in Team RWB has forever altered my life story with the tremendous impact this organization creates.”
Smythe says that the day she learned about Eagle Leader Fellowship, she knew that she needed to apply. As a 2019 Eagle Leader Fellow, Smythe has worked closely with Team RWB volunteers and staff members across the country and assisted in planning regional Eagle Leader Experiences, Camps and Academies in Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma.
“As a Fellow, I have had the chance to make a difference at the regional and national levels, developing a stronger network of Eagle Leaders who will continue to achieve our mission,” said Smythe. “And my fellowship cohort has become more than just friends. They’ve become a family on whom I can rely in the toughest of times. That’s a support network I would not have were it not for Team RWB.”
The Eagle Leader Fellowship includes support for elective education that helps increase veteran engagement at the local level. As part of her fellowship, Smythe attended a Character & Leadership Center seminar where she learned about building an engaged team and relationships, among other leadership opportunities.
Taking on new challenges
Outside of the fellowship, Christina Smythe challenged herself both personally and professionally. Her most recent challenge was the Marine Corps Marathon 10k race in Washington, DC, and she started a manuscript for her first book.
“My grandmother always told me I should be a writer. This past year, my fellowship experience has given me the motivation to put pen to paper. I hope to serve the veteran and military audiences with words supported by actions,” said Smythe.
Smythe credits much of her motivation to achieve these goals to the strong relationships she built through Team RWB.
“Team RWB has been there for me through some of the toughest parts of my life, and the support of my Team RWB family through those obstacles has shaped me into who I am today,” said Smythe. “What really counts is knowing you have a network you can count on, and give back to. Team RWB has provided the genuine and positive relationships that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”