In combat, Marines and soldiers are forced to make decisive, split second decisions that could mean life or death. They hone their ability to manage risk and lead troops through uncertain territory with unexpected sights, sounds, and smells. Military service imbues us with unique skills for unique situations. We learned this first hand serving in the Marines.
That service, and our desire to be part of something larger than ourselves, didn’t end when we took off our uniforms. Not for us and not for millions of other veterans across the country.
That’s why we founded Team Rubicon: to link Veterans and their skill sets with communities and people who are most vulnerable and most in need after disasters strike. From Haiti to South Sudan to right now in Northeast regions severely affected by a one-two punch of storms, Team Rubicon’s Veterans have sprung into action providing search and rescue, debris clearing, post-disaster damage assessments, and emergency coordination support to local and government agencies.
What Team Rubicon has become—thanks to the Veterans who have chosen to continue their service with us—is much greater. In the military, we worked in close knit teams with limited resources very far from anything resembling home. It was grueling and life-changing and meaningful. It’s also something nearly impossible to recreate outside of combat. But when our volunteers mobilized for operations in Haiti and in Joplin, Missouri, we faced many of those same challenges, and we faced them together alongside other Veterans. Team Rubicon empowers Veterans to regain that utility and camaraderie we felt in the military while giving us an opportunity to repurpose our skills.
Team Rubicon volunteers clear debris caused by a tornado, 2011. Courtesy of Team Rubicon.
On Veterans Day, hundreds of Veterans from across the country will honor those who came before us – and the communities that have supported us – by taking part in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Team Rubicon volunteers have been operating in some of the hardest hit areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York since the storm made landfall.
This Sunday, Team Rubicon is organizing a coalition of Veterans organizations to join that effort, including Give an Hour, The 6th Branch, The Mission Continues, The Pat Tillman Foundation, The Headstrong Project, Got Your 6, Student Veterans of America, and Team Red White and Blue.
Service gives us purpose, in uniform and out. Serving with each other gives us strength. Serving in these communities gives us the opportunity to give back.
Jake Wood and William McNulty are Marine Corps veterans who founded Team Rubicon in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Wood was an infantry squad leader and scout-sniper who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. McNulty served in the infantry and intelligence.