Team RWB (Red, White, Blue) is an organization whose mission is to support U.S. Armed Forces veterans by working to "guide them through this journey of real and virtual opportunities focused on building a healthier lifestyle because they are strong The focus on mental and physical health is critical to ensuring the veterans’ best days are yet to come.”
There are over 232,000 members of Team WARC and the Founder/CEO of this organization is Mike Erwin, who is well versed in both serving the land and living a healthy lifestyle. Lieutenant Colonel Erwin's grandfather was a World War II soldier who took part in D-Day. His father worked as a police sergeant and his mother was actually the first officer in the Syracuse Police Force in Syracuse, NY.
"There was a lot of public service in my family," Erwin said. He himself is a West Point graduate who also played Division 1 baseball. He was beginning his senior year at West Point when the September 11, 2011 attacks took place. With this commitment in mind, Erwin was one of the many who rushed to defend America after these events.
"I went to Fort Hood, Texas, then I was posted to Iraq for a year," he recalls. After that year, he was stationed as part of the Special Forces at Fort Bragg, NC. Erwin worked as an intelligence officer for the First Battalion. He reminded that his first assignment would not be his last.
"I was then deployed twice in Afghanistan," says Erwin. "The '02-'09 window was intense."
Courtesy of Mike ErwinCourtesy of Mike Erwin
Imagine you are in a racing car that is going at top speed and you suddenly come to a standstill. This analogy could be applied to Erwin's life after his deployments. Erwin would receive two Bronze Stars for his efforts, but life slowed when he returned to American soil. This slowdown took quite a bit of time to adjust to.
"It was really eleven years, including West Point, but the pace of life was really, really fast. I didn't have time to process anything or think creatively because I was just overturning goals. Then I went to graduate school for two years.”
This transition led him to the University of Michigan, where he earned a master's degree in psychology and leadership. He then returned to West Point and served as an assistant professor. He spent his 13th and final active year with the Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He then transferred to the Reserve Army, where he still serves today.
"I'm still a lieutenant colonel and have held that position for seven years."
Throughout his military career, Erwin had one anchor he could count on and it was fitness. He played baseball at West Point but also discovered another passion - running.
"West Point is pretty hilly but has nice running trails," he explained. “We would be doing pretty fast runs there starting in the summer. I might not like it while I'm doing it, but boy do I feel great after I do it?"
This feeling has accompanied Erwin ever since. He went on to run in several marathons as well as ten ultramarathons. Today he's a fan of rowing, but that commitment to his personal self has been and will continue to be there. Indeed, while studying at UM, Erwin found a way to combine his ministry and passion in a way that many others could benefit from. The seed for Team RWB was planted after the Green Beret left Fort Bragg for Michigan.
"The boys were like, 'Hey Erwin, don't back down because you don't have to impress us Green Berets anymore.' It was kind of tongue in cheek, but it caught my eye," he explained. Erwin realized that part of him pushing himself was the social pressure he felt on himself. It made him think of those veterans who stopped focusing on fitness after retiring.
“I can't imagine how difficult it is to find the motivation to stay physically active after the structure and pressure that the military provided has gone. I can understand why so many veterans who were so fit have stopped training.”
Courtesy of Mike ErwinCourtesy of Mike Erwin
Knowing that many of the health issues faced by veterans could be alleviated through fitness, he founded Team RWB to provide both the structure and community support veterans need to keep that commitment and theirs to realize personal potential. Team RWB hosts fitness challenge events nationwide. Erwin was preparing for such a challenge at the time of his interview.
"The team is a reminder to me and everyone who served that many things come with leaving the military. You don't have to shave or get the same haircut anymore, but don't stop exercising."
At the time of writing, Team RWB is 232,000 strong and growing. Erwin was the original managing director. He would step down from that role for a short time, but he's now back in that position and is actively looking for more members to join the team, whether they've served or not.
"We want people to join the team and be part of the mission," he said emphatically. “30% of our members are not in the military. They only care about the health and well-being of our veterans. You can also donate and things like that, but most of all we want people to get more involved.”
t only is Erwin concerned about ex-servicemen, he also has a passion for future heroes. He wants more young people to get in shape and make the decision to serve. Erwin expressed that the election is not only about the country, but can also be a guide to help
People recognize their fitness potential. It is up to anyone who is able to inspire and educate children to help make this happen.
“We need coaches, teachers, parents and everyone who shapes younger people to know that we need more people who can serve and we need them who are healthy enough to do so. We need young people who choose to move forward as a free society," he said. "That's legitimate, and if we can get them on the right foot by the age of 13, 14, 15 by getting them to commit enough to move their bodies and get them moving enough for them to serve can, if they want, that can make a big difference. It is very important."
Follow Mike on Instagram @erwinrwb. For more information about Team RWB, visit www.teamrwb.org. You can also download the Team RWB app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.