MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
The Team Red White and Blue organization is a group that consists of active duty military members, veterans and community members whose main goal is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activities.
Up until March of 2015, Minot did not have an RWB chapter. 1st Lt. Austin Howard, 5th Medical Support Squadron flight chief, decided to start it himself with the help of a few others.
“I started it along with Will Wright, our social director,” Howard said. “It happened because I heard he was a member of RWB in Lakenheath, and I was a member at Nellis. We both saw each other in our RWB shirts and we thought it would be cool to start our own here at Minot.”
When Howard and Wright first started the Minot chapter the numbers weren’t impressive, but they’ve grown substantially.
“It started with about four or five people that just wanted to work out together, then we went through the formal interview process and started building our staff,” Howard said. “We have eight people on our staff now. Right now we are at about 550 members and do around 10 to 15 events per month.”
Team RWB holds several events each month to bring people together, ranging from athletic activities such as rock climbing, to leisurely activities like a game night at a restaurant in town.
“We have a wide range of events that vary from athletic events, one weekend could be a 5k, the next could be paintball,” Howard said. “We have all those different events and the whole concept is building relationships.”
Though RWB’s mission is to help veterans, it’s not in the way most people would think.
“The organization was designed for veterans but the definition of that, by Team Red White and Blue, is anyone who has served at least one day,” Howard said. “We believe in the funnel approach, which means we like to affect people at the top of the funnel before they really need help when they’re at the bottom.”
Howard started RWB for the sake of others, but since joining he says the people have really come back around to help him when he needed it.
“I joined to help others, but I’m being helped as well because it helps you get a sense of community with people you could be lifelong friends with,” Howard said. “It’s been nice to be able to invest in other people’s lives and have them invest in mine.”
His main goal for the chapter isn’t to have a record amount of people join, but to have a lasting impact on those who do.
“I don’t want to focus on the numbers -- I want to focus on the people,” Howard said. “My goal is to build relationships that are transformational not transactional.”