Can going for a run help our military veterans?
I’m here to suggest it can and tell you how to do it with two different nonprofit organizations who are dear to my heart as a military spouse.
I fully recognize running cannot solve every problem, but it is a powerful coping tool when things feel out of control.
Wear Blue: Run to Remember
Wear Blue is a running community that serves as a living memorial for fallen American military.
It was founded by Gold Star spouse Lisa Hallett on the premise that for a fallen service member’s family, the thought of their loved one being forgotten is the second hardest blow.
So, each week, members of Wear Blue chapters around the country make miles purposeful and say the names of those lost prior to fitness activities like running, walking, and cycling.
A moving memorial.
You can read more about Lisa’s story here and watch the video below to hear her discuss why she created this nonprofit:
You don’t need to be associated with the military to participate with Wear Blue.
In fact, you can join the memorial virtually by going to the Wear Blue website and looking up the service members lost during that specific week for your own Saturday run.
If your area has a local chapter, I recommend going in person.
Odds are, you’ll meet Gold Star family members (side note: “gold star” means surviving family member of someone KIA) or veterans in your community.
You don’t need to wear the gear- just show up in something blue like me below. Cause “wear blue”!
It’s a powerful experience to go in person.
To hear the names.
To read a name yourself.
To realize it represents only a single week of lost lives since the conflict began on September 11, 2001.
You’d have to go 52 Saturdays to hear all of them.
I do not recommend wearing mascara.
Understand what a Veteran was willing to risk for his/her country.
Team RWB (which stands for Red White Blue) is a community for veterans, service members, and their families to connect through fitness.
This is not a competitor of Wear Blue- in fact, these organizations partner for events often!
Rather, Team RWB serves the active duty and retired community in a different way.
The idea here is to give these folks a “team” outside the military.
For someone like me, military spouse who has often been alone when my spouse deploys, Team RWB has been a support team of likeminded individuals who understand the lifestyle.
For a veteran, Team RWB is a unit they feel community and purpose with.
After a career of this team focused mindset in the military, the transition to civilian life is often hard for these men and women- RWB fills the gap.
Founded by Veteran Mike Erwin in 2010, this is a by military for military scenario.
Odds are, you’ve seen someone “flying an eagle” – red shirts with eagles on them – at a race or CrossFit event.
Team RWB has a robust network with celebrity advisory board members including Keri Walsh Jennings, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Hunter McIntyre, and Apolo Ohno.
When you participate with Team RWB, it’s important to download the app first.
I know you need a new app like an overuse injury, but hear me out:
This is how each chapter is funded!
Check ins to events provide the measurable data needed to keep this nonprofit going. So, by using the app to say, “I’m here!”, you quite literally put operational money in RWB’s pocket.
I call that a win, especially having experienced firsthand and seen what this group does for mental health.
Create a bridge between military and civilian communities
Make it small
Ever seen that Superman movie Man of Steel?
When young Clark Kent discovers his powers and feels overwhelmed to the point of paralyzed, his Mom tells him to focus on only her voice and “make it small”.
Side note: Moms are the best. Baller move.
I’m not suggesting your next run will change the conflict in Afghanistan or shift political beliefs.
I am suggesting a few miles with one of the above groups as something you can control to “make it small” and help your American military in a tangible way.
Check out one of these organizations…or simply go for a run and pray for peace.
This, you can do.