BY RAE DYER, OWNER, THIS PLACE
West Virginia has over 165,000 veterans. About 10% of our population has served in our armed forces. That is something we can all be proud of. We are patriotic. We support our troops and our veterans in our hearts and words. We honor them in ceremony. We donate to veteran organizations. We thank them for their service, and we mean it. I have always believed that West Virginians want to support veterans the best that they know how to.
I think there is more we can do. If you reside in North Central West Virginia, I’d like to invite you to join me.
I have been to the ceremonies, and events. I have received gratitude. I have benefitted from the VA and other Veteran organizations. I am grateful for the effort of the recognition. But I did not enlist to receive praise, and I am not necessarily comfortable with it. Being differentiated can sometimes cause a feeling of alienation. Sometimes what I prefer is to blend in. To be a part of the whole. In the military we operate as a unit. For the good of the mission. For the benefit of us all. We hold each other accountable. We have each-others’ back. We form a camaraderie that is indescribable to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. As a veteran, it can be empty without it. More than recognition, veterans, like myself, can benefit from regular, authentic encounters, that include accountability and familiar goals.
I’d like to introduce you to Team Red, White and Blue (www.teamrwb.org), and invite you to join us. TeamRWB is a nationwide non-profit organization that was founded by a veteran, for veterans, in 2010, providing support through “…real people, providing authentic support, where they lived” (Smith, 2015).
With a current chapter in Wheeling, and another chapter currently being introduced in North Central West Virginia, we are dedicated to the mission:
“To enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.” (Team Red, White & Blue, 2019)
Those who join TeamRWB will find that it is a simple concept with members comprised of civilians and veterans, alike, of all statures, backgrounds, genders, and ages. The only requirements to join us are that you care about veterans, and that you want to be a part of our community, without judgement.
Our objective is to create a community based on healthy, physical activities and social interactions. No formal meetings with agendas. No ongoing dues or obligation. We simply want to create an avenue in West Virginia for veterans and civilians to be welcome, engaged and supportive to one another.