Proud to be an Eagle
Blog written by: Chrissy Mott
I’m really just a walking Team RWB billboard at races and when I travel. I don’t get to a ton of chapter events here locally, but when I do, I love the people I meet. I go to things when I can (Sky Sox baseball summer socials are the best!) because I love the mission of this organization.
I will always wear the Eagle because it was my first lifeline. I was a little bit lost and a whole lot changed when I came home from my last deployment. I didn’t really know it then, but I needed some kind of connection to fight the demons that followed me to my home station in Japan. I was a single officer in a tough career field in a tough assignment, after a less-than-stellar deployment, living off base by myself in a country that I didn’t know very well. I wasn’t sure my family would understand from 3,000 miles away or if my supervisors would recognize the mental and emotional toll of the challenges I faced on that deployment (I had been an individual augmentee for another branch, working well outside of my specialty and skillset), so I just threw myself back into work on the flightline. I can’t remember how I found Team RWB, but I think it was a national news article or maybe a friend’s Facebook page. I just wanted to talk to someone who understood and would tell me that eventually everything would be ok….a bridge back to the normal world. I “met” Lou and Caroline via email when I ordered a shirt and signed up on the triathlon list, and it was love at first mission statement. It motivated me to get back on my bike, drink a bit less, and join our base running group, where I made a few connections that allowed me to at least maintain a façade of “ok”..for a while.
I PCS’d back stateside in 2013. I met some folks from my new Team RWB chapter and started to settle in a bit, but soon enough my demons came out to play, and I hit rock bottom with work, family, and relationships. I joined a few other veteran organizations during this period and finally sought some behavioral health help, but I kept thinking of Team RWB as the organization that helped me to reconnect with the real world. You see, Team RWB is basically the cool dad of service organizations, who wants everyone to be included and have fun while still being responsible and focused on improving lives and communities.
I find that including civilians and veterans in one organization to shrink the gap between two supposedly different groups is a fantastic idea. We’re not so different as people, we just have different experiences. I’ve met so many outstanding Americans, both military and civilian, here in Team RWB. Allowing civilian and veteran alike to work together at volunteer events, races, whatever, and including movement is absolutely critical to the success of this organization. Playing outside keeps us healthy and happy – research says so! (The combined COS-DEN chapter snowshoeing event last winter is still pretty much my favorite event ever!)
In Team RWB, everyone is included and welcome to do whatever is best for them as an individual while still maintaining a supportive Team mentality. And it all comes down, for me, to the Positivity. The very specific focus on positivity is something that is hard to find in many other groups. All of the veteran service organizations I know do fantastic work, but Team RWB has my heart for the positivity alone. My favorite example of Team RWB Positivity in action is Eagle cheerleaders. I’m always excited to see teammates on a race course and meet new friends at packet pickup, but my vote for Time Magazine Person (or People) of the Year is the flock (technically a convocation) of Eagles cheering along the course at Ironman Maryland. So many fantastic Eagles just pouring their positivity on me! An old Navy buddy and fellow Eagle from DC chapter was my host and Sherpa for the race, and since she wasn’t racing, so she worked at bike special needs all day and then rocked her RWB gear out on the run course to cheer us on through the rain. I didn’t even know most of them, but we were all wearing the same logo. A few guys from the Philly chapter stood out there and cheered for us the entire day. I noticed the same dude in the same spot on every lap, standing in the flooded streets to yell like crazy and send out good vibes every time we passed that corner. At one point near the end of my race, he saw me struggling on the run, and just ran right out on the course and gave me the biggest, best bear hug and told me I could do it.
That race is Team RWB in a nutshell for me. And to hear “Voice of Ironman” Mike Reilly recognize the organization as I crossed the finish line with a small flag in hand (given to me by a race volunteer and, I suspect, fellow Eagle) was just about the icing on the cake. But the best part? You find that same level of energy and support no matter where you go or what sport you do.
While many other organizations and many people played a role in getting me through some really bad days, Team RWB has been that old, reliable constant for me. There are veterans who understand my struggles, and awesome civilians who want to hang out with us and rebuild those community ties. Even if I don’t get to many chapter functions, I am still part of a Team. I know I have Eagles who will be there for me whatever happens.
I’m proud to be an Eagle, and a walking/running/biking/skiing billboard for a fantastic mission.