vet groups

Staying Connected After Leaving the Military

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by Rebecca Alwine

Leaving the military behind is scary. No matter if you’ve been in four years or 20, there are many things to consider. One of the things that often gets forgotten or pushed aside is how to continue to be involved in serving your community as you transition.

The instant friendships you’ve become accustomed to don’t happen as easily in the civilian world.

There are no “mandatory fun” outings or “welcome to the unit” dinners to help you get to know your co-workers. You may even go months without meeting your neighbors.

So after being in the midst of natural disaster responses as a member of the reserve component, how can you continue that feeling of involvement and worth in your community? How can you continue to serve and feel you belong to something bigger?

One great way is to join a group that shares your interests and passions. Two top suggestions are Team Red White & Blue and Team Rubicon, who often partner together, and who both have a passion for helping veterans find their place.

Team Rubicon

With the mission statement, “Disasters are our business. Veterans are our passion,” Team Rubicon strives to apply the skills veterans have with the need for responders in disasters. In August, they sent teams to the Houston area to help with response efforts after Hurricane Harvey devastated the region.

The Team Rubicon mission began after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti and has served disaster-stricken communities since then. From Greece to Sierra Leone to local communities throughout the United States, teams respond quickly to natural disasters. They are prepared to help manage incidents, clear debris, help manage spontaneous volunteers, and provide medical support at international locations. Within 24 hours they can have at least 10 volunteers anywhere.

“Disasters are our business. Veterans are our passion,” Team Rubicon strives to apply the skills veterans have with the need for responders in disasters.

This group is full of first responders and veterans who share a desire to help others and form a community. It’s a great way to get involved after transitioning from the military.

Team RWB

When Major Mike Erwin founded Team RWB in July of 2010, it was because he saw a gap in services for veterans looking for support building connections with their new communities. “With roughly 200,000 service members transitioning out of the military each year (VA, 2007, 2014) and roughly two in five departing for communities other than their former hometowns (DMDC, 2015), Erwin observed that many veterans, particularly wounded warriors, desired support in building connections within their new communities,” explained Dan Brostek, Marketing & Communications Director for Team RWB.

team rwb

Team RWB now has 220 chapters throughout the world and about 128,000 registered members. They conduct events throughout the country designed to promote community involvement through physical and social activity. “In 2016, we conducted over 43,000 events across the country,” said Brostek. “Out of those, roughly 2,400 were community service events, 4,600 were social events and approximately 8,000 were what we call Eagle Engagements, or one-onone meetings between a veteran and another veteran or civilian.

You really can’t go anywhere in the running or CrossFit community without seeing the eagle or a red Team RWB shirt. For more information on how to get involved with either group, visit their website at and

When these two organizations combine, things get really fun. Team RWB and Team Rubicon partner at both the local and national level, and you’ll find quite a few people who are members of both.