Team RWB, El Paso, to help carry single American flag across country

Directors of Team Red, White and Blue, El Paso, from left, Ismael Lopez, communications, Kenny Hill, athletics, Tephanie Hopper, chapter captain, Jacob Soileau, veterans’ engagement, Melissa Megoulloa, social, and Sharilyn Wells, community engagement, with pose for a group photo. Courtesy photo.

Directors of Team Red, White and Blue, El Paso, from left, Ismael Lopez, communications, Kenny Hill, athletics, Tephanie Hopper, chapter captain, Jacob Soileau, veterans’ engagement, Melissa Megoulloa, social, and Sharilyn Wells, community engagement, with pose for a group photo. Courtesy photo.

By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff:

(El Paso, Texas, Oct. 5, 2017)

As Team Red, White and Blue plans to carry a single American flag across the United States, members of the organization’s El Paso chapter are gearing up for their leg of the flag’s journey.

The organization will host a kick-off rally at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Old Glory Memorial off exit 28 of U.S. 54 North in El Paso, where Team RWB Albuquerque will hand off the flag to the El Paso team.

Then, at 6 a.m. the next day, Oct. 12, members of the El Paso team will meet again at San Jacinto Plaza, 111 East Mills Ave., El Paso, to begin carrying the flag. They will run 58 miles to bring it to Fort Hancock, Texas, and then bike another 72 miles to Van Horn, Texas.

Tephanie Hopper, program manager, Fort Bliss Army Volunteer Corps, and chapter captain for Team RWB, El Paso, said she encourages people to come to the local events and learn more about the organization, which helps bring veterans together with physical fitness events, service projects and social meetings.

The El Paso chapter in one of the largest in the nation with more than 1,800 members. The chapter conducts roughly 40 events each month from activities such as hiking, yoga, CrossFit and running, Hopper said.

Often veterans miss the camaraderie of the Armed Forces, and Team RWB helps fill that void, Hopper said.

Many of the members find peace of mind by connecting with others going through similar situations, Hopper said.

“This program has helped me overcome challenges in my own life,” Hopper said.

Mike Erwin, a former Army captain who served for 13 years, founded Team RWB in 2010. Originally, he started the group to raise awareness for wounded warriors during a cross-country run. Erwin realized during the run that physical fitness helps fight depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The purpose of this organization is to enrich the lives of veterans by creating a connection for them to their community through physical and social activities.

The organization has found that 40 percent of veterans who have joined Team RWB have felt less down, depressed and hopeless since joining. Also, 76 percent of veterans who became members of Team RWB felt connected to something bigger than themselves, a Team RWB survey showed.

The structure of Team RWB is based on three pillars: physical, social and community.

Although the organization started as a means to help veterans, it is not exclusive to them; family members are also invited to become members of Team RWB.

For more information, visit teamrwb.org or contact Hopper at 383-6339.