Growing Veterans Peer Support Training (6)

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Blog written by: Ryan McKennedy

Note: This blog is Part 6 of a 6-Part Blog Series.

As a social worker, I have spent a little over a year working in the Department of Veterans Affairs with many great Peer Support Specialists so I was excited to attend the Peer Support Training hosted by Growing Veterans. I was not sure what to expect upon arrival. Thea, one of our Eagle Leader Fellows thought we were going to learn how to farm (another aspect of the Growing Veterans organization). I think we all showed up a little anxious and with our guards up. That quickly went away as soon as the personal stories of the training class came to life. Prompted by Brene Brown and Sebastian Junger videos, the theme of guilt versus shame quickly arose. We learned how important it is to tell our stories, and to hear other people’s stories in order to dispel shame. We also learned how important empathy is when listening and responding to someone else’s story. When someone decides to open up, it is so important that their story is met with empathy and acceptance or else they may be discouraged to share again.

Storytelling and being empathetic are two things we truly believe in at Team RWB. When we are not attending local and inclusive chapter events, we are helping people tell their stories and teaching our Eagle Leader and members how to be an EAGLE Leader (Empathetic, Authentic, Genuine, Loyal and Effective) at our Eagle Leader Academies and Eagle Leader Camps. These experiences are slowly changing the way we interact with each other in the best way possible. Whether it is through a Team RWB Experience or a peer support training, it is so important that we learn how to be present and create space for others.

All of my experiences at Team RWB felt like a culmination during the Growing Veterans peer-support training. I have been able to find people who accept me for who I am. I have been able to find other people who are willing to be vulnerable and share their stories. Their vulnerability has allowed me to open up and share things I haven’t ever shared before. Whether it has been a Team RWB Experience I have attended or this peer support training, I showed up not knowing what to expect and usually scared. When Sunday comes around and it is time to leave I always leave with a new friend and a new opportunity to start healing.

Thanks for reading about our experience with Growing Veterans. If you are interested in their peer support training you can visit their website here –  

Lastly, as we gear up to host Run As One events in over 200 communities across the country, with the help of our brothers and sisters from Team Rubicon & The Mission Continues, let us remember that peer support can reach far beyond our Eagle Buddies.  While in Northern Washington, we noticed a few familiar faces on the couches next to us – they were the faces of leaders from Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues.  This year, spend a little more time getting to know the people behind those gray and blue shirts, and welcome them into your support network – we sure did!

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