Integrating back into civilian life is incredibly challenging for many veterans, and one national organization with a significant presence here in Michigan is helping ease that transition—and life beyond—thanks in part to running.
On this week’s show, Heather talks with two west Michigan runners and U.S. Army veterans—Eddie Kline and Ben Foreman—about their involvement with Team RWB Grand Rapids. {Listen to this episode by clicking on the player at the top of this post}

A group of Team RWB medal winners for age groups and team races during this years Fifth Third River Bank Run. Striders has supported Team RWB by sponsoring Tuesday and Thursday group runs.

Team Red, White and Blue has chapters across the country, as well as internationally; there are 8 regions, 115,000 members, 209 locations and 1,999 volunteer leaders. Michigan has the most Team RWB chapters of any state and the midwest region is the most populated, too.

“I really like being part of Team RWB because it aligns with what I do for my everyday life,” says Eddie Kline, who is athletic director for the Holland Field Team, a sub-chapter of the Grand Rapids chapter. “Building a strong social community through positive relationships is prevalent in both RWB and my CrossFit gym. We use physical activities as our vehicle to bring people together and create bonds on top of that. It doesn’t feel like a job because I love doing it—being part of the Team RWB leadership team has let me expand my reach, help my fellow veterans and give back to my community.”
“Being a volunteer leader for RWB has helped me to shift my focus from a selfish, semi-famous athlete who did not have much time or energy for other people,” says Ben Foreman, “into learning how to care about helping other veterans and civilians beat everybody else off the couch. I’m learning that most of the RWB members do not care how fast I ran a mile or a marathon, anymore than they care about how high of a rank anybody was when they served. At the end of the day, all that really matters is if we used the time and energy that we were given to help out a fellow veteran or civilian, even if it was with something small.”
Eddie and Ben share the different ways Team RWB is connecting veterans, civilians and communities. They also talk about upcoming races they’re looking forward to, and how Team RWB will play a part in these events.
“I’m the Athletic Director for Team RWB G.R, and am currently putting both RWB military designated teams, as well as RWB patriotic civilian member teams together for the Fifth Third River Bank Run on Saturday, May 13,” Ben says. “We already have about 140 members signed up from RWB Chapters from all over MI for this awesome event.”
*If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. 

A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show. Check out this studio’s work here.

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