Fitness organization brings veterans together - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Fitness organization brings veterans together

Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video

Since September 2001, over 2.5 million Americans have been deployed.

"Your job is everything," said Kate Hendricks, United States Marine veteran. "You work all of the time and you are surrounded by people doing the same. It's a very intense environment, but you feel a lot of purpose in that—camaraderie around that. You don't even realize how passionate you are about that world until you leave it."

Today, there are roughly 21-million United States veterans.

"You are told what to do every day," said Brandon Solonka, United States Air Force veteran. "You see the same people every day. (Then) to come back and not have that is just a huge culture shock to you. You kind of don't know what to do for a while. I felt alone. I had nothing in common with anyone."

Each night, 57,000 of those veterans are without a home

"When you see people in your unit sometimes you meet them for the first time," said Alex Perez, United States Air Force veteran. "But their common goal is they are there for a mission. In the civilian world, you no longer have a mission."

Nationwide, 22-veterans a day take their own lives.

"When I got home from overseas and started transitioning, I wasn't very self-aware," Hendricks said. "I didn't understand how tightly I was wound; I didn't understand why I was angry. I didn't feel I connected to people I felt hadn't shared my experiences. I unfortunately at that point wasn't aware what a lot of that meant."

Now, one organization is determined to re-write those statistics. Meet Team Red, White and Blue (

"Team RWB isn't necessarily interested, focused on the problem and treatment for the problem," Hendricks said. "We are interested in building resilience and promoting healing for everybody."

Through fitness.

"You go into the gym, walk out and feel like a brand new person," Solonka said. "You feel happy. (It is a) natural euphoria."

And community.

"It's more than a donation," said Team Red, White and Blue Tuscaloosa member, Geoffrey Aplin. "It's putting in your time and hanging out with them. Going in and running a 5k like the Warrior Dash. Something like that. It's just new friendship."

Right now, community participation is Team Red, White and Blue's biggest need. If you are interested in volunteering with Team RWB, you can sign up on their website by clicking the "Join The Team" link here: (

Team RWB has a number of local supporters including Northridge Fitness (Northport), Yoga Bliss (Tuscaloosa), Iron Tribe Fitness (Birmingham) and Hueytown 1440.

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