Team RWB Featured on the VA’s official blog site, VAntage Point.
September 22, 2014 by Blayne Smith courtesy of VAntage Point, Dispatches from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
You may know Team RWB as the organization that is getting Veterans active. You’ve likely seen us at a local 5k, yoga studio, or CrossFit gym …”wearing the eagle” and sweating together. And while physical and social activities are certainly WHAT we do, enriching Veteran’s lives is WHY we do it.
This summer, we conducted a survey of more than 4,400 of our members from across the organization in an effort quantify the impact of Team RWB.
The survey results were clear and compelling. A significant majority of members across all categories (Veteran, civilian, Active Duty) reported living richer lives since joining the organization. They indicated improved health (physical, mental, and emotional), more meaningful relationships, and a stronger sense of purpose and identity. Moreover, while outcomes were generally positive, those who are active in the organization consistently reported much higher levels of enrichment than those who identified themselves as less active.
For example, nearly half (45 percent) of “less active” RWB Veterans felt part of something bigger than themselves, but the percentage jumped to 94 percent for those Team RWB Veterans who defined themselves as “active.” Similarly, 61 percent of active Team RWB Veterans felt that they were “less down, depressed, or hopeless!”
Shared Purpose and Connectivity:
A groundbreaking component of the study was measuring the benefits of belonging to an organization that helped them to establish authentic connections. While more than half (57 percent) of our “less active” members said they benefited from the opportunity to share their personal journeys, an astonishing 86 percent of “active” members found these experiences to be beneficial to them.
Additionally, Veterans have more people they can turn to for emotional support (57 percent), they are more involved in the local community (60 percent), they have more programs they can turn to for resources (64 percent), and two-thirds they feel an increased sense of brotherhood/sisterhood in their lives (66 percent).
Bridging the Civilian/Military Divide:
Team RWB programs create genuine connections between Veterans and their civilian counterparts. A majority of Veterans (73 percent among active members) reported sharing the challenges they face as a veteran with civilians, and 87 percent demonstrated the strengths they have as a Veteran to civilians. Of equal importance, 75 percent of civilian members stated that they better understand both the challenges and strengths of Veterans in their communities.
Important improvements have been reported on Veterans’ well being since joining Team RWB. A majority of Veterans reported exercising more frequently since joining the team (61 percent), one-out-of-three veterans (33 percent) reported feeling less nervous, anxious or on edge, and 15 percent reported drinking less alcohol.
Overall, 56 percent (79percent among active members) of Veterans reported greater satisfaction and nearly half (49 percent) agreed that the conditions of their life had improved. An incredible number, 90 percent, would recommend Team RWB to other Veterans.
Our challenge for the future is to continue driving active engagement. The programs are working. Though, Veterans who identify themselves as less active, report positive outcomes, it is clear that there are significant benefits to increased participation in Team RWB sponsored activities. While we are very proud of these results, we will continue striving to serve more Veterans and more communities, more often.
Engaging and connecting with Veterans is often the most critical step to accessing resources, finding new ways to lead, and ultimately making a smooth transition. If you’ve been involved in your own way or in one of our local Team RWB chapters, you’ve already seen this in action.
If you haven’t found a community of your own, we invite you to “Eagle Up” and find a Team RWB chapter in your town.
About Blayne Smith
Blayne works closely with Team RWB’s board members, staff, and volunteer leaders to develop and implement programs that serve veterans across the country. Blayne is a West Point graduate and former Special Forces officer with combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Blayne currently resides in Tampa, Florida with his two boys and leads the Team RWB Tampa chapter.