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I joined the military in February, 1995 and served for 13 years as a communications specialist. Five years ago, I decided to re-class to Psychological Operations within the Special Operations, which was the best decision for my military career, challenging and stimulating my limits of my intellect as well as, enhancing my expertise in field.

Prior to re-classing to the Psychological Operations, I was in the 82nd Airborne Division and experiencing health issues. In 2008, I was diagnosed with Diverticulitis and was hospitalized on more than one occasion, and surgery was looming in my future, which eventually occurred. My doctor approached me several days after my surgery, in my hospital room to discuss his finding with me. One can only imagine the nervousness I was feeling, “I thought to myself this isn’t good.” My surgeon told me that since I had several bouts with the disease at such a young age they had to remove the 12 inches of my Colon, which was vastly infected.

After the surgery, I struggled with my weight and staying fit, my weight fluctuated while on deployments, I would get in to better shape, but after I would return home, I would gain it all back; my self-esteem correlated with my weight issues, and this continued to be a struggle for years until my last deployment to Afghanistan. I was attached to a Special Forces team at a Village Stability Operations site (VSO). There were several guys on my team that were members of “Team RWB”; I spoke to them regarding this club mainly because I was mostly curious. I spoke to them on many occasions about what this whole “Team RWB” was about, and decided to sign up and give it a shot. I began a rigorous workout regimen with the guys and as the weight came off my self-esteem level roses, and before I knew it I had lost 35 lbs. My chain of command hardly recognized me when I returned to Bagram to wait for my flight home. Once back on American soil I vowed not slip back to my pre-deployment weight, so I decided to see what events the “Team RWB” chapter had coming up.

On Ma y 1st, I joined a picnic/ 5 mile run event with the chapter. The Ft. Bragg chapter is an awesome group of folks. I saw some faces I have served with many years ago, along with meeting so many new friendly people. Every one really made me feel welcomed! During this picnic, Mike Erwin announced RWB’s future plans and as a leader, I whole heartedly agree that our service members need something that can make them feel at home or at least provide that sense of normalcy after they transition out of the military. Now, when I have a conversation with my soldiers regarding life after the military, I talk to them about RWB and the benefits that it can have to belong to a community that understands what they have gone through and appreciated their sacrifices. My involvement with RWB has made me decide to try new things and even re-explore some of the activities I used to enjoy. I can’t wait to bring back the skills I will learn at the rock climbing camp and share them with family and friends in my chapter.