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Ray Algar reports on a joint US mission to bring war veterans and communities together.

Imagine you are a 23-year old American soldier deployed to western Afghanistan. Life is highly organised because it is ‘mission driven’. Everyday your life, and those of your comrades, depends on you bringing your ‘A game’ to the battlefield in pursuit of the shared mission. You are a valued part of a team and if the day comes that you have to sacrifice your life in pursuit of the mission, or to protect a comrade, you’d do it, all would, because we are a team. But what happens when the mission ends and its time to return home and transition to life as a civilian? Life after war should be a far simpler mission, but for far too many US military veterans, it is one they are poorly equipped to deal with. Adjusting to the rhythm of civilian life becomes a daily challenge because it now lacks purpose and those unique skills acquired and honed on the battlefield are not in demand here. For many, this can lead to depression and addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Step up Team RWB

Mike Erwin, a major in the US Army had the foresight to recognise that the reintegration of war veterans into civilian life would become increasingly challenging given the rise in overseas deployments with estimates that approximately one million military personnel will retire or separate from the military over the next five years. So Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB), a non-profit organisation was founded in 2010 with its own mission – to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to people in their community through physical and social activity. War veterans often report feeling ‘disconnected’ when they return home and so Team RWB’s vision is to increase the connectivity between America’s combat veterans and people in their communities.

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