Local Veterans Connecting Through New Group

A new veterans group is forming in the Wheeling area with hopes of connecting veterans and civilians in order to engage in more physical activity while proving to be an asset to the local community.

Team RWB, a national non-profit organization founded in 2010, currently owns nearly 100,000 members with groups in more than 100 cities in the United States. The goals of the group are simple: To deliver consistent, local opportunities for veterans and the community by connecting through physical and social activity.

“Veterans connecting with other veterans are very important to them because they’ve had the same life experiences,” said Nicole Layton, a civilian working to organize the local group. “And that’s a big part of what Team RWB does and why we think it’s important to begin this group here in the Upper Ohio Valley.

There are more than 100 Team RWBs across the nation.

There are more than 100 Team RWBs across the nation.

“In many cases, those connections can prove to be lifesaving,” she continued. “It’s all about getting together for physical activity or in a social setting, and that is what we are hoping to offer here in the Wheeling area.”

Layton does have ties to the military. Her father retired from the United States Air Force, her brother is currently serving in the Air Force, and her sister is with the Navy at this time.

“Although I have never served in the military, several members of my family have so I have been surrounded by it most of my life,” Layton explained. “My involvement with Team RWB is my way to pay them back and to do something, in a way, for my brother and my sister.

“The group is about helping veterans, and about helping our community, too,” she said. “We are hoping to connect with the teams in other areas like Pittsburgh, Morgantown, and the Columbus region. Those members can come here for events like the Debbie Green Classic or the Veterans Race, and we can go to those areas for the events they have there.”

Local veterans gather often for physical workouts.

Local veterans gather often for physical workouts.



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Michael Novotney, a veteran of three tours of duty with the United State Army and now the Veterans Outreach Specialist with the Wheeling Vet Center, also has been involved with the group’s initial organization.

“What this comes down to is veterans and civilians getting together so that new resources can become available to veterans after they have completed their service,” he said. “Thus far we have met for a few runs, but accomplishing that on a consistent basis in this weather has been tricky, but we know the warmer temperatures will return to this area in the near future.

“As far as what activities we get involved with in the future, the options are really limitless,” he continued. “Yoga, cross-fit, biking, running, and even road marching are some things that all veterans are familiar with, so why not? Anything and everything. Anything that gets people out so they can get connected with one another. That’s what we will be doing in the future.”

Team RWB Upper Ohio Valley will host a social event this Thursday evening at Generations Restaurant & Pub in the Fulton section of Wheeling. The event will begin at 7 p.m., and one order of business will be to choose members for five leadership positions.

Team RWB Upper Ohio Valley has a social event planned for this Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at Generations Restaurant & Pub.

Team RWB Upper Ohio Valley has a social event planned for this Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at Generations Restaurant & Pub.

The positions are Team Captain, Veterans Outreach Director, Athletic Director, Community Outreach Coordinator, and Social Director. The Team Captain is the person who is the overall leader who would welcome new members, assist with the administration of the group’s Facebook page, and work to make sure the group maintains the Eagle Ethos, or standards. The Veterans Outreach Director would reach out to active and retired service members to boost membership and also to make sure their needs are met when possible.

The Athletic Director organizes the group’s athletic activities while the Community Outreach Director would be charged with contacting community leaders in the effort to get Team RWB more involved with the area’s non-profit organizations. The Social Director would produce a monthly newsletter and help organize activities where the group could gather together for activities such as meals, dinners, Nailers games, and movies.

“We have to get those positions filled before we can be officially recognized as a Team RWB,” explained Layton. “Once we do that, then it will be time to move forward with gaining membership and scheduling more and more activities.

Nicole Layton (wearing yellow) and Michael Novotney (in front) have guided two group runs thus far.

Nicole Layton (wearing yellow) and Michael Novotney (in front) have guided two group runs thus far.

“Now, if someone is not interested in serving in one of those positions, that’s OK; we still hope they come to the social Thursday evening,” she said. “We understand that people are very busy, and if a veteran finds themselves with a schedule that’s too packed for one of those positions, we still want to connect with them.”

The new veterans group is utilizing social media to spread the word about membership and the scheduled activities. The local team’s Facebook Timeline can be found at this address and the national web site is here.

“So far we have been using social media a lot because there are so many people on Facebook, Twitter, and those kinds of platforms,” Layton said. “At this point we are organizing and getting our leadership team in place so we can become an official Team RWB.

“What veterans in this area need to understand is that there is no cost involved,” she continued. “There are no membership dues or anything like that. This is just about veterans finding veterans and getting involved with activities as a group.”

Several group members from outside the Wheeling area participated in the Veterans Day Race in November.

Several group members from outside the Wheeling area participated in the Veterans Day Race in November.

The Facebook Timeline is inclusive to the entire Upper Ohio Valley, and that is because this region of the country is very rich with those who have served the country in the military.

“We went with that name for the Facebook page because of how closely tied the communities are throughout the valley area,” Novotney said. “Best case scenario would be all veterans from as far north as Jefferson and Hancock counties to as far south as Tyler and Monroe counties to come together for this team. This way all of the veterans in all of the communities can feel involved.

“Through my work with the Wheeling Vet Center I make contact with veterans from all over this region, and I’m confident that once they learn about Team RWB, they will want to get involved,” he continued. “What this can accomplish is to supply veterans with what they miss the most from their active duty, and a big part of that is the camaraderie with their fellow soldiers.”

(Images supplied by Nicole Layton)



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