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Big winners

Published February 28. 2014 05:01PM

This Sunday, The Army Marathon II will be run near Fort Hood, the largest active duty armored post in the United States military.

The event, which was created to commemorate Texas Independence Day and also honor our soldiers and National Guardsmen, will be raising money to help the Fort Hood chapter of Team RWB, which helps enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activities. RWB chapters are located in over 90 communities across the globe, including groups in the Williamsport/Lock Haven and Philadelphia areas in this state.

Not only do the Team RWB events give veterans a chance to get out, meet new friends and stay in shape, but it allows them to share their feelings, which can be important for those who recently returned from a deployment.

In the military, everybody has a responsibility but once they get out, some miss that role. RWB events help fill the void by giving them a sense of belonging.

When it comes to our military veterans, we're talking big numbers. Over the next five years, approximately one million service members will retire or separate from the military.

Since 2001, nearly 2.5 million U.S. military personnel have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. One in six of these men and women return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the most common mental-health diagnosis among veterans of the desert wars. The VA estimates there are nearly 400,000 untreated cases of PTSD.

A 2009 Rand report estimates that 26 percent of returning combat veterans may have suffer other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Research studies showed that patients who ran moderately hard on a treadmill for 30 minutes prior to PTSD therapy reported a greater reduction in symptoms compared with those who underwent therapy alone. Forty one percent of veterans, meanwhile, stated that they are more likely to exercise if they can do it with a group or team.

For these reasons Team RWB has made the weekly fitness activities and monthly social events central to its mission.

The letters RWB are significant. They stand for red, white and blue, the colors of our flag, the same colors these veterans were defending so we can remain free.

By Jim Zbick

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