Running, Resilience, and Reflection: Roleen's Story
Roleen loved everything about being in the Marine Corps. From 1995 to 2002, she dedicated herself to serving her country. Initially, she started off as a supply clerk, ensuring that all the necessary equipment and resources were available to her fellow Marines.
Her first duty station was the Mountain Warfare Training Center in the Pickel Meadows near the Lake Tahoe area. The Sierra Nevada wilderness packs heavy snow in winter, but with Roleen's deep understanding of wilderness survival, Lake Tahoe was the perfect place for her. She thrived in the conditions of ice baths, rock climbing, snowshoeing and skiing, and caring for the pack mules.
Roleen craved adventure and sought new opportunities for growth. That's when she made the decision to become a Marine Security Guard. Only the top 5% of individuals successfully pass the rigorous training at Quantico, VA. But Roleen? She was determined and driven, and she made the cut.
Her first assignment as a Marine Security Guard was to Sao Paulo, Brazil. She spent over a year guarding the embassy there before moving on to Athens, Greece. While it sounds idyllic, Roleen faced challenges. Not all countries recognize women as security figures. But Roleen was used to overcoming adversity.
Roleen is a member of the Navajo Nation and grew up in a desolate area of the reservation. Her ancestors were runners that used to carry messages to other families across the remote expanse of the Navajo Nation, and tough rodeo competitors. Determination, resiliency, and self-sufficiency are necessary for survival in an area where, even now, there's still the need to transport fresh water for drinking and for livestock.
Roleen also had the unique opportunity to learn from six Navajo Code Talkers while growing up. She credits them for being a significant reason she joined the military. She listened to the stories they weren't allowed to share when they came home and treasures their signatures in her copy of the book about their history and accomplishments.
Roleen separated from the military in 2003 and, like many veterans, sought connection and purpose. She joined a civilian running group but found she had to filter herself too much. After reconnecting with a high school track teammate who was a local Team RWB volunteer, Roleen joined the chapter Facebook group. For about a year, she kept an eye on things, just observing and getting a feel for the vibe.
Roleen officially joined Team RWB in 2019 and is the current Team RWB Albuquerque Chapter Captain. She believes, "If you want a great group, you have to build a great group.” It’s something she learned during her military service and insight she’s passing on to the next Chapter Captain.
Roleen's journey from serving in the Marine Corps to being a volunteer leader in Team RWB shows her dedication, resilience, and love for community. As a member of Team RWB, she continues to embody these qualities, fostering a strong sense of belonging and purpose for veterans in her community. Her story is a powerful reminder that together we have the opportunity to create a lasting impact in the lives of those who have bravely served our country.
Join Team RWB today and be a part of this incredible community!