Army Drill Sergeant, George Fuller, talks to me about Ruck 'N' Run, which honors those who served, as well as helps to build camaraderie through their fun, motivating, and challenging events.
Links & Resources
- Ruck 'N' Run website
- Ruck 'N' Run on Facebook
- Ruck 'N' Run on Instagram
- Ruck 'N' Run on Twitter
- Ruck 'N' Run on LinkedIn
- Team Never Quit Podcast episode with Dan Luna mentioned in this episode
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning in to a Drive On Podcast where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a Veteran active duty guard reserve, or a family member, this podcast we'll share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:22 Hey everybody. Today, my guest is George Fuller. George is the creator of Ruck N Run a nonprofit organization geared towards helping Veterans and the military community. So welcome to the show. George, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
George Fuller: 00:00:38 Well, it's good to be here. Thank you for the invitation and excited to share the story about Ruck N Run. I joined the military in 1998 and am still serving. So what I do outside of uniform with Ruck N Run as a non-profit organization, just want to create that atmosphere to get the community and Veterans involved.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:00:59 Yeah, that's great. You're currently serving and you are doing this as a way of sort of giving back to the Veteran community, it seems like. Where did you come up with this idea for Ruck N Run?
George Fuller: 00:01:20 Yeah, definitely. Before I go into detail though, and I like how your question was stated because being in the military I know there's different transitions within the military. I've been regular Army, Reserve, and have been deployed a couple of times. I'm now AGR, and I know there are different components. I also know the feeling of coming back from deployment. I also know the difference between civilian and military life. And so I believe that we all want to make an impact, and we also want to continue our mission. So with me, my impact would be to create an event where Veterans in the community can get together. And it really came out from a negative thing where I was tired of seeing commercials about the over commercialization of Veteran’s Day, like come buy a mattress on Veteran's Day and I say this from the beginning, it's not about a sale.
George Fuller: 00:02:25 It's about our service members and Memorial Day has become the same way, Memorial Day sale, come buy a car. How about we honor those who died in uniform? How about that? So that's more important to me and if I can create an event which I'm proud to say that me and my team has done so well, we created an event that really draws the public together that gives them something to do during Veteran’s Day weekend, they can return back to work and say, this is what I did specifically to honor Veterans during the Veteran's Day weekend. And that's something, I'm not saying we were the only ones doing it. I hope around our whole country that people do something similar like that, where they can have an event that draws the attention back to Veterans and away from the sale.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:03:14 Yeah, absolutely. I know this last year with COVID everyone has had their schedules screwed up a little bit. I know our kids used to go to a school that very Veteran's Day they did a Veteran's Day assembly. And they talked about what Veteran's Day was. They brought in some local Veterans, parents who were in the community who were Veterans or currently serving, because we're near an Air Force base. And they did a good job at talking about that; but this year was different, they didn't have any in-person events or anything like that. I figured that probably a lot of schools around the country and a lot of other organizations around the country wouldn't have these in-person events that they might normally have around Veteran's Day. So I did a podcast episode specifically dedicated towards Veteran's Day and teachers could use it as an educational type tool if they needed to, that was my own little way of honoring Veterans on this podcast. It seems like that's kind of like what you're doing too; you're raising awareness of Veteran's Day of what it is, and honoring the service of the people who it is supposed to be there for, you know?
George Fuller: 00:04:38 Absolutely. So not only that, it's also the second, I would say the second side of that coin. Not to focus on the negativity, but to refocus the over commercialization of Veteran's Day and other military observances. We started with Veteran's Day, but the other side of that was when I competed in those sprint triathlons, the ones that [are] the smaller version. I'm not an Ironman by any means, right. But those types of things. The first time I crossed the finish line, there was an instant comradery that I had not felt since I was in basic training or AIT or something like that calling cadence in a formation. That camaraderie was instantaneous. And I would say that it built up, it crescendoed to the finish line because along the route, whatever I was doing, people were cheering each other on.
George Fuller: 00:05:34 It was just a community event. And so I wanted to capture and encapsulate that comradery, not only that I recognize from being in the military, but also just that community of common ground, you take people that are great friends and you boil it down to some of the things, they're common ground. Some of the things like they were in a shared space for an amount of time. And sometimes it was a struggle and that could be applied to anything. It could be applied to police Academy or military basic training, or anything. Those shared experiences over a given point in time builds that comradery, and I wanted to share that comradery. I wanted the community to taste it.
George Fuller: 00:06:31 When they came across the finish line, they earned their finishing medal. We don't have participation trophies at Ruck N Run, and they earn their finishing medal and we have placement medals for people that are faster, but we also have it to where people can just do it for fun and just to honor someone. And then on top of that, we want to connect to the community. So that is three things. That's our three pillars honoring those who served, building comradery, and connecting the community. And I think that's it, as long as we build upon those three pillars, I think we're doing the community and the Veteran community as a greater whole really a good service, because it does refocus people. Now people are wearing, we probably average about 400 shirts every year on our annual event and it's growing; so there's people out there wearing a Ruck N Run shirt for five years or whatever. And that's going to strike up a conversation. I did the Ruck N Run, what's Ruck N Run about, and it says right there, it's about honoring those who served.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:07:34 Absolutely. And that's a great great cause, honoring those who served. I just want to go back a second here, because you were talking about the way you build that camaraderie, and through that, the shared experiences, and I know when we were gearing up for our deployment to Afghanistan, we were doing a driving course. We took out the Humvees at night and we were doing nighttime driving. Some of it was off-road and we didn't really realize because we weren't familiar with the area. We didn't realize exactly how muddy the ground was. And all of our Humvees got stuck in the mud, like deep in the mud, and it was bad. We ended up spending the entire night out there, chopping trees down to wedge under the tires of the Humvees. We called in some Ruckers to come help pull us out and they got stuck. It was just a complete nightmare, but because our platoon shared that experience together, I think in that moment, we all grew closer together and not that we weren't close before, but we grew in that shared experience that shared suffering of the experience. And it was kind of amazing to see that transformation just in one night.
George Fuller: 00:09:11 If you haven't seen the movie Stepbrothers, you need to go do your homework, but for those that have seen it, the point where the step brothers became like brothers, you could correlate that with any branch, but really it's shoving people together that don't have a similar background and all of a sudden they're given a common enemy or a challenge or something to face together. And all of a sudden they're more tight knit than ever before. And me being a former Drill Sergeant, I understand from a different perspective than when I was in basic training. The common enemy was, I wouldn't say enemy, but the threat was a Drill Sergeant, right? So that person was like, “Oh man, he's going to make my muscles sore.”
George Fuller: 00:09:58 And you know, he's gonna smoke us all day long and he's like beat your face, push up Fort Sill, things like that. When I became a Drill Sergeant, that's comradery on the trainee level. And then even when we were getting ready to go to deployment, my first one was to Kuwait and I was there when it was YourDari and our unit renamed it to Buring. That was pretty neat. So then the second deployment I was in Mosul and I was part of the military transition teams. So I really lived out of a backpack for a long time. I was a Chaplain assistant during that time, which is now renamed as a religious affairs NCO. So I mean, a chaplain, we would travel to 36 different military transition teams or MTT teams.
George Fuller: 00:10:47 And they were in 17 different locations. So all over Iraq and I've never been to Afghanistan, but we saw everything in Iraq. And what was amazing was that comradery, even within these individual teams was built upon their shared struggle. And they were put with Iraqi Army soldiers, and they were trained in the Iraqi Army in different careers and different branches. So that way we could pull out at a certain time. So that was the whole mentality. And that was something that was very valuable to see those teams build comradery. So to recreate that for Ruck N Run was very important, not just specifically for MTT teams, but as a whole, like the word camaraderie, how that builds people up and how you can, let me put it to you this way.
George Fuller: 00:11:35 I have a 1951 Dodge Coronet. It's an old car, but if I'm driving down the road and I see another 51 Dodge Coronet, we're going to pull over and we're going to talk. We have that shared interest. And, you know, if you see somebody with a Veteran's hat or something else they might not even know that I'm a Veteran, but I just say, I like that hat. Can you tell me a story about that hat? And they start telling me about their military experience and they don't even need to know at that point, if I'm a Veteran, by the time it's done, you know what, I serve too. And I just want to thank you for holding the line so I can do what I'm doing. And instantly, we've served, we can instantly have a conversation where civilians can't really, or they won't really be able to relate the way that we can, however, with Ruck N Run, it's an event where anybody could participate.
George Fuller: 00:12:27 In fact, I called it Ruck N Run for Veterans at the beginning. And I thought, it just depends on how you read that because it's Ruck N Run for Veterans. Like that's the only people that could participate or is it rucking around for Veterans like benefiting Veterans? So I just dropped the “for Veterans” words for Facebook. And then I had it registered as a trademark. And then we have another registered trademark for honoring those who serve(d). And I'll tell you the D in honoring those who served is in parentheses, because it has a note between those that are currently serving and those that have served honorably. So in that sense, people come out and participate in the event and they'll do it in honor of someone in their life that served in the military. So that gives them something tangible, that gives them something like an event, it's tangible. I can put my finger on that. That's what I did right there to honor this family member or this service member in my life. And that right there, that's our message. That's what we're all about, honoring those who serve.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:13:34 Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things I think is very hard for Veterans who are making that transition that you were talking about earlier between military service and their new newly found civilian life, even though we've all been civilians at one point or another, it seems like that part of your brain gets reprogrammed once you get into the military. We have trouble when we get out of the military and transition back to civilian life with finding common ground with other civilians and making those connections and finding that comradery that you seem to be working so hard to build up. So organizations like this and events like this are, I think, a great way to help find some of that common ground amongst service members.
George Fuller: 00:14:33 Absolutely. We upped the ante on that one too. So as a Drill Sergeant, I wanted to create this event not only to honor those who served, but to bring the community together and what better way to do that than an event like this and what better way than to invite a local Drill Sergeant units from Fort Leonardwood and a Reserves Drill Sergeant unit, Reserve unit in Springfield, Missouri, and it's based out of Missouri, by the way Springfield, Missouri area, it's Republic, Missouri, that's the home of Ruck N Run. So those Drill Sergeants will come out and they'll be on the stations along the route. And it's funny, I remember it was July or something. I was getting ready to go down to Fort Sill for some time to serve as a Drill Sergeant. And I remember doing some recon and stuff now my rucksack and I'm on the route and I'm making notes and I'll tell you, there's nothing like rucking to get your mind going.
George Fuller: 00:15:24 And so, instead of me trying to type it out while I'm rucking, I just had a video playing. And I remember I have a video of when I changed my mind from it's going to be a 5k. No, it's going to be a 5.5, 6 K. So to a little Omaj to the NATO round. And then we have a 7.62, we're adding 11.11 this year because of Veteran's Day is always 11, 11. Right. There is an opportunity really. I keep saying opportunity, but it really is an opportunity for the civilians to get a taste, a small taste of basic training. So let's say they go in there and they say, “Hey, I'm going to do this for Sergeant Smith. He's in my family. You know, I'm going to go out there and do that.”
George Fuller: 00:16:03 And then they start going to station one where there's pushups and the Drill Sergeants, they're yelling at them. I mean, motivating them, you know. And they're saying, do push ups do push ups? You know, and they're counting them and they're doing them and Drill Sergeant is saying “one, one, one, you're not doing them right, do it over, and that whole thing right there is where they're getting a small taste of military training, and I'm talking like people that have military family or people that are getting ready to get into the military or people that have been out of the military, you'll have people snicker at them and stuff and drill, sorry. So you better keep moving, and it's a fun family type thing. So don't let that intimidate you, but it is intimidating. It's both sides really. And really right there is where they get an opportunity to say, “Oh, you know what? I had a very small taste. It's nothing like basic training, but I had a small taste of what you went through. I've never had a Drill Sergeant yell at me like that before,” and they gain a greater respect for the military service member in their life. Right there. Boom, homerun.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:17:05 Yeah. And I think anything that you could do to help further the knowledge and understanding of the civilians who may never serve themselves, or never knew anyone who served to increase that understanding of what it's like to go to basic training; they don't really have any idea other than watching Full Metal Jacket or movies like that, where they see those types of images, but they don't get to experience it themselves. Someone literally in your face, knife hand screaming, the whole nine yards. That's a whole lot different than sitting back with a bag of popcorn and watching a movie. It's a completely different experience.
George Fuller: 00:17:54 I'll go back for a second for our logo right now is a fire pit. And so I came up with that idea because as a military transition team member with religious support, there were times where we, well, a lot of times where we came back from a mission and we had this little fire pit. Now it's not a burn pit, but there's a fire pit. So we had our lunch. We weren't on a Forward Operating Base or FOB. We weren't on a Forward base. So we were out in the middle of nowhere in our Iraqi base and we had this little fire going and we would decompress at that fire. And that right there meant a lot to me. So that was a lot of the camaraderie, not only in the finish line, not only the basic training, not only all those aspects, but to sit around a fire pit.
George Fuller: 00:18:39 How many times do we think, at least I do. I think, what I would love to be out of the fire pit right now just share memories with people that I served with. And so we made that fire pit a centralized feature of our event. It's right in front of the stage. I don't think any other event does that; but it's right there. And every year it's roaring and it's so hot. We had one year, we had 12 degrees. Some years it is too warm for the fire, but people are still there and they're sharing their stories. And I'm gonna tell you what, we had a Marine that was there and he participated in the event after he was, I believe he had a combat injury and he was recovering from it. And this was his time in Afghanistan.
George Fuller: 00:19:22 And he was wearing a shirt with a name on it, Brian Opscar. And then he was coming across the finish line, right? I'm like, man, this guy, it's amazing. He came up to me and said, this is the first Ruck N Run event I've ever done. This is the first event that I've done, that I did it with my physical therapist because I wanted to honor Brian and his sacrifice. And then a lady came over to him and was looking at his shirt and I'm kind of telling the story from like three times removed. But this lady was looking at the shirt and then went over to another guy and it was her husband and said, the Brian Opscar on your shirt is the same name, that's on his shirt.
George Fuller: 00:20:08 And so he goes, those two guys met up and I'm getting goosebumps right now telling the story. It's just, it blows me away every time I think about it. But these two service members haven't seen each other in over a decade and they were both Marines together in Afghanistan. Can you believe that they were living in the same town and they came to Ruck N Run and the name was on their shirts. And they were honoring Brian Opscars sacrifice on that same day. That just blows me away every time I hear it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:38 And they didn't even realize that they were there, not only at that event, but also living in the same area.
George Fuller: 00:20:48 Yeah. And the other thing is this was the second year we had Ruck N Run and their first event was the second annual. It just blows me away every time I think about it.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:20:57 Wow. That's great. That's great that you can bring people together like that too from all branches of the service and they can come together and share stories and get to know about each other, especially around the fire pit and have that other common shared experience, because it's not all about the suffering, the pain of the shared experience. There's also the fun aspect of it too, and hanging out and getting to know each other.
George Fuller: 00:21:34 And let me add this, if you don't mind. One thing is that I was listening to, and I'm sure you've heard of it. The team never quit podcasts, and they had Don Luna on there, or Dan Luna, sorry, Dan Luna on there the other day. And I listened, or it was a long time ago, but I listened to it the other day, Dan Luna. And he mentioned something that I want to mention as well, and you talked about civilians watching Full Metal Jacket, right. And this is what kind of put that into my head. And I'm actually surprised that I remembered it but here's the thing. I think that too often in our current time that Veterans are painted as broken and always having PTSD or always having something wrong with them.
George Fuller: 00:22:25 So if you look on any type of show I would say on a greater average, you're going to see the Veteran is going to be the one struggling with substance abuse or PTSD or suicidal ideation or even actions and different things like that. Look, that's not what Veterans are about. And this event right here shows that all the Veterans that show up, we're not walking around with our heads hung low. We're not suffering from PTSD. All of us, we're not all broken and dysfunctional. That's not what this is about. We're Veterans. We served. And then there might be a transition because our profession is violence, right? That's what the military is about. You could disagree with me, whatever, but our profession is executing violence upon our enemies. That's what it is. It's whether you're doing it by pulling a trigger, or you're doing it by support, you're either supporting it or actually doing it.
George Fuller: 00:23:21 Our profession is violence. And then you take that, and this is the same thing that Dan Luna mentioned in his podcast. I highly recommend that anyone who wants should listen to that, but it's almost like they attach morality to it. That's what he's saying. They attach morality to violence. And so when we're taught, Hey, don't do that. Instead of saying, we go in the military, it's like, Hey, you're getting ready to be into a profession where it's all about violence, but this is how you're going to do it because it's against our enemies. And then you can't do that at home because that would be wrong. And that's the case, right? That I agree with that and he goes into detail and I'll let him speak on that because he's the expert. He's a certain amount of expert on that.
George Fuller: 00:24:00 But what I'm trying to say is Ruck N Run is not about a whole bunch of Veterans coming up and saying, I have PTSD and that's not how Veterans should be painted. And if I could fight against that, I will because the community is going to come together the Saturday before Veteran's Day. Sometimes it falls on Veteran's Day itself for Ruck N Run for an annual event. And they're going to get to interact with soldiers, Marines, Coast Guard and everything. And they're going to see how they're just like them. They just serve their country and they did it honorably. We don't have to have the stigma and I don't get why, I could point my finger at Hollywood and I'm not here to do politics, but that's the thing we Veterans should not be painted always as broken, dysfunctional PTSD, you know?
Scott DeLuzio: 00:24:48 Yeah. And I know from television shows, network television, movies, things like that a lot of times you're right. The Veterans are the broken ones or they're struggling with addiction or things like that. And it's not always the case that, I mean, yes, there are, we do have our fair share of problems and we do have some issues that we need to work out amongst the Veterans that are out there. But it's not a hundred percent of Veterans, so it's not like you're gonna run into a Veteran and all of a sudden he's going to be acting out or anything like that. We're not dangerous people, you know what I mean? We have the capacity to be dangerous people, but we know how to reign that in and I think a lot of it, we should, well, we should be able to.
George Fuller: 00:25:46 Absolutely. That's training.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:25:49 Yeah. And one of the things that I think the military does to get you to be able to act violently against your enemy is sort of dehumanizing the enemy, you know, right or wrong. It's just one way of doing that because it's no longer a person that you're attacking. It's you know, you come up with a nickname or something like that, and it sort of dehumanizes them and it allows you to do that. But when you see the person in the grocery store, that's still a person that you haven't de-humanized.
George Fuller: 00:26:32 Absolutely. And I can't speak to being in combat, taking on bullets or taking out the enemy, only trained to do that. I can't speak to that side, but I can speak to let's say that side that we are trained to do, like you said, we have to be able to reign that in. And I think that with Ruck N Run being at a community event, and we have people from all over Fort Leonardwood, Kansas City, we have Tulsa, Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas. They come from all over. We had somebody fly in from San Diego. He met there with another Ranger that they were in I believe the 75th together. And it was pretty neat that three guys came together from the Rangers to meet the 75th Ranger regiment. And they came to meet at Ruck N Run.
George Fuller: 00:27:21 I think that was pretty neat. So what I'm saying is like to get people together to see that we're not just a bunch of pit bulls with chains on us. You know, we're not all broken and all dysfunctional. A lot of us just want to make an impact in our community, and that's what Ruck N Run is going to do. A lot of us just want to help out other people. And I'm gonna tell you this, a lot of Veterans want to go to events like this because they want to reach out to other Veterans because they're the ones that can reach out to them the best. Because if you've served in the military, you and I can speak the same language, whether it's I T I, or a Drill Sergeant or a drill instructor, all of that, that's the same to us.
George Fuller: 00:28:03 We understand it's a campaign hat. We get it. We can speak a different language and we can speak it. It's old, it's our own culture. And then we had these subcultures within my degree in intercultural studies. And I think that I truly believe that the military itself has its own culture within the military. And then you had the different branches, and even within the branches, you have different branches, you know, like engineer or military police, and you have different units and you'd have different regiments and you have different sort of those cultures. I wouldn't know the first thing about the soft community. So I want to learn from that, but I know about on a baseline level, and that's how Ruck N Run is going to continue to function as a nonprofit organization, because Veterans are going to get there.
George Fuller: 00:28:51 And then just say, how can I reach out to this other Veteran? Because he may be struggling with PTSD. We don't know it. And we come together, we're rucking alongside each other. And all of a sudden, that communication starts and they would have never seen each other, but like this other example, they didn't see each other. And over a decade, that community communication starts going, that was brought out of comradery and connection in the first place. So that communication is rebuilt or built from the ground up. And now those Veterans have a conversation later on or later on that day from Ruck N Run. And then all of a sudden these issues are coming out. And I'm going to tell you, this is why I know this because I make it a point. I take leave from my military service and go to Missouri and I'm there for two weeks or something.
George Fuller: 00:29:39 But I make a point to schedule as much as I can to meet with Veterans, not only before the event, during the visit, but also after the event. And I remember meeting with one of the Veterans after the event, it was just amazing. We just went to lunch and just talked. It was like two hours. And who knows what we talked about, but I'm gonna tell you what we both needed because iron sharpens iron in my book, if I can get around another Veteran and we can sharpen each other, we can share stories. We can embellish a little bit, or we can crack jokes, but right there that's comradery, that's connecting right there. That's honoring, I'm honoring his service. He's honoring my service at the same time. And again, it's not a participation trophy, but we can connect like no other people can. And we don't even have to really know each other. We just start with the baseline. Did you work here? Memos? Yep. Let's talk.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:30:30 Yeah, exactly. I think the other benefit to having something like this is for some of the possibly, even for some of the wounded Veterans who are looking for a way to reconnect to their military service, maybe they've been medically discharged and they're looking to challenge themselves. Maybe they had an injury that made them get out of the service and they're looking to challenge themselves and getting back into something like this is probably a good thing for them therapeutically, maybe to get back into the military community and also challenge physical limitations after the injuries that they may have sustained,
George Fuller: 00:31:25 Right. There's a correlation right there because, the last time that you were in a formation called in cadence with each other, I mean, you don't know when it's going to be your last time doing that, but I think everyone in the military that is experienced, that would love to do that again. And so that's a level of comradery, Oh, I didn't know that. Or how about the last time you were in uniform? You know, I still wear the uniform. And when the last time I wear that uniform, it's going to be different that next day, because I could put it on after that, if I still fit it, if I maintain my physical appearance and stuff, but after I've already got my separation papers, it's different. So that last day that we're wearing uniforms and to bring people back in and do that.
George Fuller: 00:32:11 And you know, not only with the injured but just the community to see, we all know that there are wounds that aren't seen and there may be more to the story there, but I'm talking like someone that comes to the event that got their leg blown off by an IED. And I'm gonna tell you what I noticed while I was in uniform serving in DC, I was the liaison for all the combat wounded that came in from overseas. And I did the numbers right before I left PCs. And it was around 700 battle injured that came in. And I remember seeing this Marine Corps service member, he was an E8 and he had both legs blown off from an IED and shrapnel in his face. His team members had shrapnel in the face and you could see their comradery on that, on that flight line.
George Fuller: 00:33:08 I'm not medical. I'm just going to put that out there. I was there as a liaison. So, I made sure that they got the Army emergency relief funds that they needed to help them in their transition from battlefield to Homefront. And it really opened my eyes to that whole thing. I had no idea. That Marine Corps service member that I met on the plane coming in from Langstool. He was calling me Sergeant; he's E8. I was like, brother, you don't have to call me nothing, man. I'm just glad you're on this flight and you're safe. And so to make sure that the service members that were battle injured got the Army emergency relief was my job in uniform. And what I did was I translated that back into Ruck N Run. And so what we established was two funds.
George Fuller: 00:33:54 One fund was in their honor. And the other fund is called Honoring. Those who served and in their Honor fund is helping a family that has lost a service member while they're in uniform. And the other one is honoring those who served, and that's just honoring someone's service to the country. They could still be in service or they're a Veteran. So with honoring those who served is on the one hand, but in their honor is the sacrifice made in uniform. And we built up that fund, we earmarked it and we built up that fund. Thankfully, but unfortunately we did have to use that once. And we did that in order to honor and to help out a family that lost the service member. He was a Reserve soldier, but also a law enforcement officer in Springfield, Missouri.
George Fuller: 00:34:46 So we gave his family some funds to help out during that difficult time of his loss. He was killed in the line of duty. On the other hand, we had a service member a Veteran and she was a Veteran and her husband was deployed and they lost their daughter to type one diabetes. And so we were able to, as a nonprofit organization, help that family out through the Honoring Those Who Served Fund. And I'll tell you this though, it was last April that they lost their 12 year old daughter. And so we've been trying to figure out a way to do something with that to honor their family and her, and being a military child. So what we're doing in April is we're doing an event called the Military Kid, and it's not released yet, but it's to honor her and her family, but also to honor all military children out there.
George Fuller: 00:35:41 So we're doing an event where you can earn a challenge coin and it's going to be, her two favorite colors were purple and blue, and it's a specific purple and blue. And it's kind of, I don’t know if ironic would be the appropriate word to use, but in the month of April is the month of the military child and they use purple for that month and that's the month she passed away. And then it is in our other favorite color, blue, and it's more like a Cheyenne blue, and that color is actually the same as type one diabetes awareness. So, those two colors and this event is going to help out with raising awareness about the military child, but we're also using the proceeds from that specific month's activity and any donations come in to Ruck N Run in that regard to build a scholarship for a deserving military kid.
George Fuller: 00:36:43 So it's gonna be a good event. And like you've probably seen from my website, we have these monthly events where people can earn a challenge coin. I know that there's organizations that do patches but we do challenge coins because that's what the military has. So earning challenge coins, one of those things and the Ruck N Run series at the 10 month series culminating with our annual event. So those are ongoing. Anybody can jump in anytime they're just geared towards a certain month, but that's how we're redirecting back to what Veteran's Day is all about. What military service is all about honoring and considering the military child, because I've missed birthdays, right? My child also missed their dad being there for their birthday. And it's important to honor that as well.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:37:35 It is. And I think people tend to forget the families, the spouses and the children who are left behind when the service member is either deployed or off training or whatever it is that they are doing. A lot of times people forget that sacrifice as well. And I think events like what you're doing is great, a great way to honor their service or their sacrifice as well for what it is that they have to endure.
George Fuller: 00:38:13 Absolutely. Yeah. I know there's a time where I'm probably thinking around Desert Storm a little bit after that, the thing would be if the Army wanted me to have a family they'd issue it to me or by person. And I'm thankful now that the military has actually shifted and understood the importance, not only of physical fitness, but spiritual fitness, but also the family fitness, how the family is involved in the soldier or the service member's life. I know that all, not all service members called surgeon soldiers, if you're a Marine, you're a Marine. If you serve, I think each military branch within their purview has recognized the importance and elevated the importance of the family. And I think that's a good thing. That's a good transition.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:39:01 Yeah. It's moving in the right direction. As far as that goes where it's no longer, like you said, if they wanted you to have a family, they would have issued one. It's not like that so much anymore. At least it shouldn't be anyways,
George Fuller: 00:39:20 And we're not going to talk about the mandatory fun days already.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:39:25 No, so that's
George Fuller: 00:39:27 A whole different,
Scott DeLuzio: 00:39:30 That's a whole different can of worms. I don't think we need that open right now. So where can people go to support Ruck N Run, if they're in the Missouri area, obviously you have the events going on there, but if people want to get involved and they're not a local in that Missouri area, how can they get involved?
George Fuller: 00:39:57 Well, first of all I'm glad you mentioned Missouri because the annual event is in Missouri, but we do have virtual events. So what's crazy about our current situation with COVID has really shed a light on virtual events where before it was a struggle to explain what it was about, like the struggle was what's rucking all about. Right? So I think that we have a better understanding as a culture what rucking is. We also have a better culture or understanding of what a virtual event is. So we have these virtual events. We've had them since year two, we called them a shadow event, but we're just going with the times it was a virtual event. So we have every annual event. We could also do a virtual, we all get the same finisher medal, you get a shirt, we do neck gaiters, cinch bags, a wristband.
George Fuller: 00:40:45 We send that to you. You can do it anywhere. In fact, we've had people deployed do that in their free time. And you just sign up through Ruck N Run.org. You can do any of the monthly challenges whenever you want, or you can stay on schedule with us either way, and those are virtual as well. So you don't have to be in Republic Missouri to do it. We would love for everyone of your listeners to come out to Republic, Missouri for the seventh annual Ruck N Run on November 6th. Yes. That was a plug, but we'd love that; we'd love for them to come out, but if they can't, they can support it that way. We are a nonprofit and I do want to state again I don't do any running around and stuff while I'm in uniform.
George Fuller: 00:41:25 That's a no-no, but also I don't get any income whatsoever from doing this. This is a passion of mine and it's a community thing. So as of now, I don't get any type of check from Rucking Around at all and that's an amazing thing. Nonprofits should be pretty transparent when it comes to profits and nonprofits and things like that. But as it stands that's how it is. And so they can support us, they go to RuckNRun.org. We also have social media, they can share a post just like anybody else would do. Of course, donating that's one way you could do it. You could donate specifically to a cause. There's the Honoring Those Who Serve fund and In Their Honor fund.
George Fuller: 00:42:17 There's the general fund, there's even the Military Kid fund that they could do if they want to contribute to the scholarship, to the deserving military child that's coming up in April. So there is that way, really just getting involved in a Ruck N Run community is huge. Once you earn a finisher medal, you are part of our Legion and that's a big step. So we encourage anyone that's out there that doesn't know what rucking is all about, or is an expert to earn their finisher medal, just go to RuckandRun.org
Scott DeLuzio: 00:42:52 And all of the links to your website and social media and everything will be in the show notes too. So anyone who's looking for that, you can find all of that there and you can follow them on social media, share their posts, help raise awareness, maybe even get a team together to have people to either travel out to Missouri or to do one of the virtual events and do it from your home area, wherever that may be and get involved with it and try to help out some of these service members and their families. I think that's a great cause.
George Fuller: 00:43:32 I'm glad you mentioned the teams because that's very important. We have several events that need a team leader, the team leader for our August event and also our April event. So being a team leader is pretty important. So if you want to reach out to our team just [email protected], just say, Hey, I want to be a team leader for one of these. You can organize wherever you are on the map. You can organize an event where you are, and then we will supply the finisher medal or the challenge coin whichever event mission you choose to do. And that's a great step as well, because you're basically being a liaison for Ruck N Run in your own community, wherever you are.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:44:14 Yeah. Wonderful. Any last thoughts George, that you might be able to give to the listeners, anything else that we didn't cover about your organization or any advice for transitioning service members or anything along those lines that you might want to add?
George Fuller: 00:44:37 I think it's important to understand that community involvement is so important for the Veterans that are transitioning. I've transitioned differently as far as from components and inactive and active statuses. I've got 5 DD, 214, just because of back and forth from active and reserve and stuff. So with those transitions though, community is important. So getting around a group of people that are like-minded, or that want to do something similar, what's that saying that says, that's a terrible idea, what time, like what time do you want to do it? That's the type of people that we're after or even people that are novice or don't know what rucking is all about. Veterans, I would encourage the Veterans that are listening, you have your own unique story and you had your own unique mission while on active duty or serving in the reserves or however you served.
George Fuller: 00:45:40 I tell people, leverage your military experience, not only in the civilian world, like the job market, but leverage it within your community, make an impact in your community because the community is going to not see Veterans as broken, dysfunctional, PTSD as a whole. They're gonna see us as contributing impactful civilians that did serve in the military honorably. And I think that makes a big difference in our community. George Washington, if I could paraphrase, I'm not going to get a quote right, so I won't try. But he said, when we join the military, we don't let go of the civilian to become the service member. And again, I'm paraphrasing, but it is a true statement. What he says is that we don't let go of the civilian. It is still inside of us.
George Fuller: 00:46:35 We're still civilians. And it's important to reconnect with family and loved ones and our community and also make new connections within our community to make an impact or to make an impact in our community. I think that's very valuable in what we do and through that we can continue to quite simply refocus what Veteran's Day is all about and it is not about a sale it is about our service members. One thing that I would mention again, is that Ruck N Run has no signs of slowing. So I would invite you to come out to an event if you can't make it, just go on our website, fish around, we've got a mission page. In fact, I would direct you to our videos page, and there's some outstanding videos of our last couple of events or actually all of our events and just check those out, share them.
George Fuller: 00:47:28 I mean, it's podcasts like yours that shine a light on what Ruck N Run is all about. And I would hope that through this podcast people would reach out to you or even Rucking Around or myself to where we can have those conversations that might be difficult, but we can have those conversations that are definitely going to be encouraging because we can have those difficult conversations, It could be encouraging as well. And if there's a Veteran out there listening and wants to get connected or wants to do something impactful, I would just recommend starting by having a team and just say, Hey, I heard this crazy thing called Ruck N Run. I'm willing to lead a team who's with me, what time, you know?
Scott DeLuzio: 00:48:10 Yeah, absolutely. Getting involved in things like this could be that thing, if they're struggling, they're going to be able to get involved and find that comradery again. And that might just be what they're looking for, you know? One of the things, there's really two parts of this podcast, one is sharing the struggles and the triumphs of Veterans who went through an issue and they came out on the other side, a better person, and that's there to give hope to the other Veterans who might be listening but also to shine light on organizations like Ruck N Run and all the other organizations that we've interviewed on this podcast because they may not otherwise know about these organizations.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:49:08 And so I want to spread the word about all of these different types of organizations that are out there, whether they're therapeutic for a Veteran or not. I think that's up to the individual to decide but organizations like this Ruck N Run could definitely have that therapeutic value of building the camaraderie and getting people together and getting out there and doing something physical and reconnecting with the military community. And so that's why we do things like this and have episodes like this, where we shine the light on organizations that could be beneficial to people.
George Fuller: 00:49:52 Absolutely. I wanted to go back on your first question, why did I form Ruck N Run? What was this idea all about? But I started off by saying it was to redirect or refocus it over commercialization of Veteran's Day. And it was also to provide Veterans in the community an opportunity, a tangible opportunity to come together. But as we're sitting here, peeling the layers back of this, I want to readdress that question. The main reason why. And I didn't even find this out until someone really probed. Like they kept asking me why, but why, and they peeled back these layers and I hopefully have peeled back the layers enough to reveal this, that I started Running Around because I needed it. And that might sound crazy selfish, but I needed it.
George Fuller: 00:50:42 I needed something to do besides sitting on the street and looking at a parade going by and nothing wrong with parades. But the participants of Ruck N Run are not the same as sitting on the sidelines, looking at a parade going by on Veteran's Day, I needed the conversation around the fire pit. In fact, that's why we have camping overnight. We have people that come out and pack a pickup on Friday and they stay overnight by the fire pit and we wake up and we're right there at the event that comradery is irreplaceable. I needed that. So yeah, it may be selfish, but it's true. It really is true because when someone probed me about that question, but why are you doing this? I understand that over commercialization, just get at why are you doing this?
George Fuller: 00:51:27 Cause I need it. And I think that that's the real heart of it because I was struggling and I needed that camaraderie. I wanted something that's tangible that I can say, this is how I'm honoring those who served. And yes, I have served, but I'm talking about what about the service member over there that doesn't feel like he's honored in his sacrifice? What about the Vietnam Veteran that got spit on when they came back home? What about the World War II Veteran that no one wants to hear their stories anymore? How do I honor them, not honor me? How do I honor them? And like I said before, you're talking about someone that has a Veteran hat and you ask them about the story. That's what I do. So if I can step outside of that for just a second in some, metaphorical way; how do I honor those who serve? I'm not including myself in that. I'm saying, how do I honor the sacrifices of my brothers and sisters and that's that's the story of Ruck N Run right there.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:52:30 Well, there you have it. Well, George, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today, learning about Ruck N Run and everything that it's doing and how it's benefiting the military community, the Veteran community. Again thank you for sharing everything about it, your story and how it got started. I just want to make sure people remember where to go to find a Ruck N Run, RuckNRun.org. it's R U C K the letter N R U n.org. and you can find all of the social media links on their website. I'll have all these links in the show notes as well. George, again, thank you for joining me.
George Fuller: 00:53:17 It's an honor. Thank you for the opportunity.
Scott DeLuzio: 00:53:20 Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you
Scott DeLuzio: 00:53:26 can visit our website DriveOnPodcast.com. We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at DriveOnPodcast.