When Chuck McCowan joined a local veterans’ group, he was struggling with his transition out of the military. Team Red, White & Blue San Antonio helped him adjust by attending their events.
The Team RWB San Antonio Chapter organizes many events such as virtual yoga, runs, food bank volunteering, and more. One event, Monday night bike rides, just came to a close for the 2020 season.
Chuck McCowan, Eagle Leader, or main point of contact, for Team RWB SATX Monday night bike rides, said that the rides are “not just about getting in shape, it’s about building confidence and building you up.”
McCowan volunteered to step into the role once he noticed the position was needed because he wanted to give back to the organization that gave him so much.
“I was in a pretty dark place back in 2017 when I first joined this organization,” McCowan said. “I bought my first bike in February of that year, rode a few times, and absolutely hated it.”
Even with McCowan’s initial reaction, members in the cycling group showed him it could actually be really fun and got him into cycling.
A 2015 study by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, discovered that participation in Team RWB events such as the Monday night cycling ride has improved Team RWB’s member’s well-being.
One of McCowan’s favorite memories was seeing one of the newer members begin just like he did when he joined the Monday night rides about a year ago.
“This year I had the opportunity to ride with him on a 103-mile ride which is a huge feat,” McCowan said. “I was thinking he would do okay, but he absolutely tore it up with a 17mph average and even pulled us for about 25 miles.”
McCowan said he enjoys seeing the moment that people start their cycling life to completing their capstone moments of activities they never thought they would be able to do. He said Team RWB welcomes anyone, not only veterans.
“Being a part of this group is just noticing how everyone takes good care of each other. That’s huge. It’s not just in a veteran’s life, but in anybody’s life. So that’s big.” McCowan said. “That’s what this organization means to me.”
Team RWB focuses on accepting others as they come and doing their best to uplift and encourage them to be their best selves. This approach helps improve members’ personal relationships.
Rudy Sanchez, a Team RWB member, heard about the Monday night riding group from a friend and walked up to see if he could ride with them.
“They were really warm, nice, and inviting,” Sanchez said. “Even though I ride a weird bike, they didn’t chase me off and I try to keep up with them.” Sanchez rides a recumbent trike known as a Cruzbike Vendetta.
Marty Martinez, Chapter Captain & State Coordinator for Team RWB Texas, lives in Schertz, but he participates in events across Texas. According to Team RWB’s Annual Reports, they have held 204,776 RWB events from 2015 to 2019.
One of Martinez’s favorite events is volunteering at the San Antonio Food Bank and Haven for Hope with his daughter, who is a freshman in college. He said volunteering positively enhances his life and enjoys helping out his community in any way he can.
“I’m very proud of Team Red, White & Blue and what we do for the veteran community,” Martinez said. “When the veteran leaves the military or someone wants to find a sense of comradery, Team RWB provides that.”
Martinez said that their purpose is to connect people to people to others with similar interests. Membership is free and simply calls for individuals who are dedicated and want to give back to their community.
“I’ve been with the organization for 3 years now and I’m not sure where I would’ve been had I not found them,” Martinez said. “It really helped me transition out of the military because it’s hard.”
Martinez mentioned that as individuals, we have the power to lift others up when they may be in their darkest moments.
Team RWB empowers members to participate in many ways. For many members, representing the Team RWB eagle shirt is a simple way to show their appreciation for the group.
As members dive more into all that Team RWB has to offer, their degree of participation continues to increase. Martinez said he has seen membership continue to grow for Team RWB San Antonio in 2020 from their current approximate count of 4,500 members.
Team RWB has chapters all over the United States and membership is open to anyone. Texas has 10 chapters.
As a last thought, Martinez said the aspect of Team RWB that he enjoys most is listening to people’s stories and sharing those moments with them.
“You talk about family, career, combat experiences, childhood memories, anything really,” Martinez said. “You come to realize that we all have this amazing story.”