By Aaron Malouin Guest Writer
The MDI Special Operations program supports men’s teams that are forming outside of the already-established 7 regions of MDI. Special Ops member Aaron Malouin interviewed James Lee, Captain of Team Battleground in Tennessee. The team was formed almost two years ago and joined MDI in December 2016. The team currently meets in Baxter, Tennessee, which is located dead-center between Nashville and Knoxville along Interstate 40. The interview provides an interesting perspective into the workings of a team out on its own.
MDI: Tell me a little about your team.
Lee: The team started about nine months before I joined. They met in Baxter, just outside of Cookeville, Tennessee. We are called Team Battleground and presently have six committed members. We meet Wednesday nights at 7 p.m.
MDI: Could you explain why you meet? What is the reason that you take time away from your families to circle around a fire every Wednesday?
Lee: We meet to better each other in life. To become better men, fathers and leaders in our communities. We have a diverse group of men who all have different life experiences, and that helps us to look at each man’s challenges from different angles. We have men who are small business owners, carpenters, factory workers, and even a Pastor. We range in age from 19 to 67, so we have a lot of different perspectives on things.
MDI: Tell me a little about yourself. What made you want to join a men’s team?
Lee: Well, I was in a bad situation as far as my life was concerned. My marriage was on the rocks. I am a recovering alcoholic, and I was just having a rough time overall. I was asked by a friend to come and check out a meeting and so I went.
MDI: Can you explain what that first meeting was like for you?
Lee: It was a little strange to be honest. I saw a group of men press a man until he opened up about a family situation that he had. It wasn’t mean or anything; it was just a group of men sincerely trying to help a fellow man. It impressed me because I didn’t know it was OK to do that. That made me want to see more. I really wanted to see what this group was about. Joining this team has reformed who I am. I feel like a better person. I have a better relationship with my wife, with my family and with my kids. It has been a great experience for me. I have found a group of men who are some of the best men I have ever met.
MDI: It’s really is a testimony as to what we do as an organization. What are some of the challenges your team has faced?
Lee: Being remote is probably the hardest. The closest division to us is about four hours away, so it is hard for our team to get the camaraderie of a bigger circle. We have participated in a few events in Atlanta. One was an overnight that was awesome, but the feeling of being alone is tough.
MDI: How have you overcome that obstacle?
Lee: We have a weekly phone call with the Special Ops team. It has really helped us get connected to other teams that are in a similar situation to us.
MDI: How is the Special Ops program working for your team?
Lee: I enjoy it very much. David Plante (VP of Special Ops) will get an ego boost from this, but he has a ton of knowledge to pass on. I have never met a man who can talk like he can. (Laughs.) It is really cool to see the calls expand. It seems like we have new people on the call every week, so that is exciting. It is almost like we have our own division inside the Special Ops program.
MDI: It is exciting to see MDI growing in places that are outside of the existing regions. Do you have any final thoughts?
Lee: I think MDI is a great organization that makes men into true men. I think it is the best route for building a strong team.