By Patrick Roush, Team RWB Monterey Bay
I have loved the outdoors since childhood. Boy Scouts introduced me to many outdoor adventure sports, and helped prepare me for military service, for which I knew I was destined. In 2010, after nearly two years of training, I led an Infantry Platoon of the renowned “No Slack” Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, in combat in eastern Afghanistan. It was a very physically, mentally, and emotionally difficult deployment. An example of my unit’s experience was even captured in the documentary film “The Hornet’s Nest”.
After returning from Afghanistan, I began taking a more personal interest in fitness. As a Soldier, and especially as an Infantryman, excellent physical fitness is required. Since changing to a less physically demanding career field, constantly improving my fitness has become a more personal, rather than professional goal.
I much prefer to be outdoors whenever possible. Hiking, kayaking, and camping are among my favorite pastimes. The outdoor sport I have really embraced, however, is trail running. While stationed in Arizona, I was blessed with nearly limitless wilderness in my backyard. The Huachuca Mountains became my sanctuary, where I could run for hours without seeing another person, and have personal reflection time. This is also where I competed in my first trail race, and I was hooked.
My family and I then moved to Fort Drum, in northern New York, where we were introduced to Team RWB. It was a young group (officially an offshoot of the Syracuse chapter), which we were able to grow into a fully independent chapter. Team RWB was a great way to integrate into the local area and meet some of our best friends. The local YMCA saw Team RWB as another way of accomplishing their mission of improving people’s lives and serving the community, and graciously provided us with support for our weekly activities (especially during the winter).
I had actually learned about Team RWB while deployed in Afghanistan. I remember reading an article in the military newspaper “Stars and Stripes” about Team RWB’s trail running camp in Texas. My wife, Molly, and I, along with other Team RWB members, were fortunate enough to attend last year’s trail running camp. It was everything I could have wished for and more. We began the (Veterans Day) weekend with a night run, and kept running throughout the hills of central Texas. We met with some of the most renowned athletes in the sport, and received classes on training, nutrition, running techniques, and other topics. Appropriately, we finished the weekend with the WOD for Warriors.
We heard inspirational stories, where athletes explained the therapeutic medicine the sport and Team RWB has been for them. Some dealt with personal loss, some with severe physical injuries, and others with devastating depression. In every case, it was their focus on sport and the support from other athletes that allowed them to overcome their personal challenges. Veterans and civilians experience similar challenges, and work to overcome them with the same way. This method of healing is how of Team RWB executes its mission to reconnect Veterans and Civilians.
While I do not have a story of triumph over adversity, Team RWB has given me the inspiration and knowledge to achieve one of my athletic goals. My personal training goal is to complete the 2015 Karwendelmarsch 53km trail race in the Austrian Alps, where my family and I will move next year. As a means to that end, I wanted to get at least one” ultra” run under my belt. After months of training, countless miles under my feet, and a little anxiety, I crossed the finish line of the Mount Diablo 50 kilometer trail race.
The Monterey Bay area is a place where Team RWB can really take hold. There is a large Veteran population, very active local community, and opportunities for wide variety of physical activities. We have been surprised by, but deeply thankful for the immediate outpouring of local community support for establishing a chapter here. As we continue to grow our membership and repertoire of physical and social events, Team RWB will be able to more closely connect Veterans and local Civilians, promote healing through athletics, and build a supportive community.
To learn more about Team RWB or to become active with the organization visit www.teamrwb.org