Staunton recruiter hits the streets with new ruck club

Members of the Virginia National Guard’s ruck club pose for a photo in Staunton, Virginia. (Courtesy photo)

RICHMOND, Va. — Sgt. Donald Arbaugh, a new recruiter with the Virginia Army National Guard, recently started a ruck club in Staunton, Virginia. Arbaugh wanted to do something new that would both serve a recruiting tool for people interested in serving in the National Guard, as well as a way to get more involved in the Staunton community. 

“The main goal of the group is to recruit folks,” Arbaugh said. “But it’s also fun and promotes a healthy lifestyle through military-type exercises.”

The group, Arbaugh said, is affiliated with GORUCK, a rucking foundation based that has held more than 7,000 event wordwide with more than 175,000 participants. To get the word out, Arbaugh created flyers and visited local law enforcement agencies and gyms and started a Facebook group. Currently, the Virginia Army National Guard Ruck Club has 15 members and Arbaugh said he hopes the group will continue to become a bigger part of the local community.

“I’m expecting more in numbers and planning an event in Washington D.C. for Memorial Day,” Arbaugh said. “I am also planning a ruck in Richmond and several lighter events.” 

The group is available to all walks of life, said Arbaugh. “Males and females of all ages; military, civilian, law enforcement and first responders. Anyone in the community that wants to participate is welcome to join.”

Arbaugh recommends participants  wear comfortable hiking gear and appropriate footwear and carry a water source along with a ruck or pack at least ten pounds. 

“Our only requirement is a positive spirit and wanting to fellowship with the community,” Arbaugh said.

During the group’s rucks, Arbaugh leads the way in a modified uniform while carrying the American flag. Along the way, he offers encouragement and motivational support to the ruck marchers. 

“You get the endorphins going from rucking, you’re talking to each other, listening to music and seeing the American flag waving in the wind and it’s a unique experience,” he said. “Being a part of something like this is special, and it doesn’t cost a single dollar, that’s the best part, it’s free.”

For those interested in participating in events, the Virginia Army National Guard Ruck Club’s Facebook page provides updates on upcoming events. 

“If you’re hesitant, just reach out to me and I’ll talk to you one-on-one,” Arbaugh said. “I want everyone to feel comfortable and come out and meet your local Soldiers, law enforcement, fire department and first responders. I want everyone to come together, exercise team building and work together as one cohesive unit.”