From combat trauma and the demands of military life, it can be hard for returning veterans to segue back to civilian life. For example, approximately 18.5 percent of service members returning from Afghanistan or Iraq have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Team Red, White & Blue Executive Director Blayne Smith said he struggled after he began to transition back to civilian life following military service. “It can be challenging to transition from military life to civilian life,” Smith says. “I came back home and I felt guilty. So, when I realized that things weren’t going as well as I’d hoped they would, it was a big wake-up call for me.”
Smith, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, said he had to get back to doing things that made him who he was so he could start feeling better. “I had to force myself in some cases to get a little bit outside my comfort zone,” Smith says. “I started running and exercising more and that made me feel great.”
Team Red, White & Blue is a nonprofit organization that helps veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activities.
“When we get people together, then they can support each other,” Smith says. “Physical activity is a great way to do that. Not only is exercise great for your physical, mental and emotional health, but it’s the best way for people to build meaningful connections.”
To learn more about Smith and Team Red, White & Blue check out the video below.
The Aetna Foundation donated over $200,000 in grants to organizations that support veterans and their families and help veterans make the transition to civilian life after service.
Veteran unemployment has surpassed national average unemployment figures for some time. But now an increasing number of employers are making significant efforts to aid, recruit and train veterans.