|Speaking at the Veterans Recognition ceremony.|
Monday, November 11, 2013
Veterans Day 2013:Connecting Veterans and Community Members
Over the past few days I have participated in several Veterans Day events. I spoke at a Veterans Recognition event and participated in two WOD for Warriors workouts.
For Veterans Day, I spent the morning with some fellow Team RWB members running a fitness session for the employees of PepsiCo in Somers, NY.
All these events were about connecting Veterans and community members, which was the subject of my remarks (posted below) at the Veterans Recognition ceremony.
A lot has been said about the divide between the military and the civilian population we protect. This can easily be bridged when community members get involved. When Veterans leave the service, approximately 60% end up in a community different from where they entered the service, and some, but not all Veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life. The mutual trust and interdependence experienced can be difficult to find once they transition.
I subscribe to the notion that if Veterans and community members take part in a shared experience the value of this interaction will benefit both the veteran and the community member. There are numerous organizations supporting Veterans and giving community members a way to get involved. In my off-duty time, I work for one of them, Team Red, White, and Blue (www.teamrwb.org).
Physical fitness and sports are proven ways to bring people together and set the conditions to build meaningful relationships. In our case, they provide Veterans with renewed camaraderie, a sense of purpose, and shared accomplishment. In addition to being an excellent way to connect on a social level, physical activity is proven to be therapeutic and healthy for both the body and mind. By inspiring Veterans and members of their community to become physically active, we create frequent opportunities to establish authentic connections. By increasing the number and quality of personal interactions, Veterans become integrated into their new community, lead richer lives, and improve their overall chances for success in their post-military lives.
For the community member they are more in touch with the Veteran population and more aware of experiences Veterans have faced in defense of this nation. For example if you were to go run with me, a wounded warrior (http://itickwhenirun.com ) , I would share my story with you and you would hear about combat and overcoming adversity. As I shared my stories about combat you would hear about my soldiers and learn about their courage, valor and loyalty.
If you were to get involved and talk to my wife, you would hear about her being by my side when I woke up from surgery holding my hand. You would hear about love and commitment. If you were to get involved with your local chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue you would interact with Veterans, some of whom were wounded in defense of our freedom. You would see them working together with other community members and learn a lesson about teamwork and resilience.
As you observe Veterans Day this weekend, ask yourself "How will I change the lives of others? " One way is to establish a connection with America’s Veterans individually or through a shared community experience. They will appreciate it and the value to you will be immeasurable.
Happy Veterans Day!