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By Leo Shane III, Military Times

Organizers with Team Red, White and Blue have long said that veterans who participate in their events are happier, healthier and more civically minded than their peers.

Now they can prove that. And researchers say that type of supporting data is often lacking in community outreach efforts to help veterans.

This week, officials from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families released its new study on Team RWB, the 6-year-old outreach organization whose stated goal is to “enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”

More than 270,000 individuals took part in group events last year, about 40 percent of whom were nonveterans looking to better connect to the military community.

Of veterans surveyed, 81 percent said their involvement made them feel more satisfied with their lives, 64 percent said it helped them maintain a healthier weight, 53 percent said it helped them better connect to their civilian peers and 70 percent said it helped them build a better network of professional contacts.

The results largely echo long-held beliefs of the group’s leaders and members, but for the first time provide solid data to back up those claims. And IVMF officials said too often veterans groups can’t prove their good intentions result in good results.

“This is something that rings true across the entire nonprofit space,” said Nicholas Armstrong, senior director for research and policy at IVMF. “Most nonprofits don’t have the funding to do extra research outside their main mission, or think about ways to collect new data on outcomes.”

The full report is available at the IVMF website

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at [email protected].