CYJ: Tell us a little about Team Red, White and Blue.
JB: Team RWB is an organization that specializes in advocacy for wounded veterans. We have endurance athletes that raise money and awareness through athletic events ranging from 5K’s to Ultras to Triathlons. We also have advocates that develop one on one relationships with wounded veterans. RWB was founded by Maj. Mike Erwin, an active Army officer, who has been instrumental in spreading the word as an athlete, advocate and promoter.
CYJ: What do you do as teams?
JB:The different “teams” do many things. One of the things is a RWB member will partner with a wounded veteran and what starts as an advocate relationship turns into a freindship. We also raise awareness and money participating in races across the world. When you see a group of people wearing the eagle, running across the finish line carrying the US flag you ask questions. That allows the members to share experiences and raise awareness for the cause.
JB:I am a wounded veteran myself. I am still on active duty and have seen first hand the benifits of an advocacy program. The VA and other veterans groups have a lot of great resources for our wounded warriors. The one aspect that is missing is a one-on-one relationship. Having that one person that will call you and tell you to get off the couch because “we’re going for a run,” will listen if your having a problem or will help fill out a resume is something that you can’t put a price on.
JB:My old platoon leader was running the JFK 50 miler race in 2010 and asked me for two things. The first was a donation to help him raise money for the team. He also asked me to look into joining and becoming an athlete for the team. I donated, read Mike’s mission statement and have been wearing the RWB eagle ever since at every race I go to, both as an athlete and a volunteer.
JB:Team RWB is a registered charity of the Louisiana Marathon and we will have tent set up to spread the word about what it is we do for our wounded veterans. We also will have members running the half and the full marathon to raise awareness for the cause.
JB:I have volunteered at several races in the Central Louisiana area as a team member, raced in Louisiana and Texas as a member and have encouraged others to join the team through promoting the mission. Another member is in the begining process of organizing an event in the Alexandria area for this fall.
JB:I will be running the half marathon this Sunday and will be taking some time off from racing, as my wife and I welcome our first child in February. We also are moving to South Carolina this spring. I will be forming a new chapter of Team RWB in the Central S.C. area and already am recruiting for that team.
JB: The best way to help out is to get involved at the local level. See what you can do to help at the local VFW, American Legion or other veteran’s groups. Start your own chapter if one is not in your area. You can find Team RWB on Facebook, Twitter (http://twitter.com/teamrwb)
JB: I think that the most important thing for everyone to know is that our veterans are coming home and are missing the connections they had while serving in uniform. We develop such close, intimate, personal relationships with our fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, that when we get back and transition out of the service we miss that. When you are suffering from wounds both mental and physical, you need a person that will help you without question.
If you’re interested in Team Red, White and Blue or would like to talk to James further, visit the organizations tent at the Louisiana Marathon.
By Rivers Hughey