Magazine article VFW Magazine

Team Rubicon Builds Community through Disaster Relief

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Team Rubicon Builds Community through Disaster Relief

Article excerpt

War veteran-volunteers help "bridge the gap" by providing swift assistance to victims aer traumatic natural disasters before traditional aid organizations arrive. In between, they focus on community service, as one Florida VFW Post recently found.

It started in 2010 with a catastrophic earthquake in Haitione of 7.0 magnitude and easily one of the worst on record for the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. An estimated 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings were damaged, affecting some 3 million people and killing more than 90,000.

Marine vets Jake Wood and William McNulty, along with six other veterans, were moved to take action. They lew to Haiti to provide aid and support learned from their days in the military. The team went to camps other aid organizations would not.

Wood served in both Iraq (2007) and Afghanistan (2008) as a scout-sniper with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines. McNulty served in the infantry and intelligence from 2000-2008, including as a TOW gunner in the 24th Marines.

The co-founders conOrmed in Haiti what they believed for quite some time: that skills learned from military service easily translated to crisis management during natural disasters.

Over the course of the last Ove years, Team Rubicon (TR) has engaged more than 28,000 veterans and Orst responders, deploying them to some 100 natural disasters domestically and abroad.


They aren't branded like a traditional veterans service organization. Their language is different. They know their audience-youthful, socially engaged, ready-to-work no matter how tough the going might get. The group is hip-even spreading news on peripheral social media such as Snapchat, and offering everything you need to know on its website.

The "prodigious, good-looking, and service-minded team of volunteers and supporters fueling the relief machine that is Team Rubicon" is a group of all sorts focused on one mission: "Disasters are our business. Veterans are our passion."

TR "unites the skills of military veterans with Orst responders to rapidly deploy response teams, free of charge, to communities affected by disasters across the country." According to Mike Lee, communications coordinator for TR, the breakdown is about 80/20-80% military veterans of all ages and backgrounds, and 20% Orst responders and military family members. Lee says there is no age limit or physical requirement to volunteer.

"It's not like everyone out there has to be running 10 miles a day," says Lee, who is not a veteran himself. "There are a lot of jobs to Oil." Volunteers are needed for anything from stafOng a situation that doesn't require much physical engagement to working on a computer for organizational purposes.


Team Rubicon can call on upwards of 28,000 volunteers ready to pick up and take off, fully equipped for a number of different functions when a crisis occurs. It works in compliance with the National Incident Management System, allowing groups to deploy as a self-sustaining unit. Essentially, volunteers with Team Rubicon are actively helping the communities in need with the most efOciency and least detrimental impact as possible.

"Being a vet makes you uniquely prepared for the sights or sounds of a disaster," Lee said. "They are similar to a war zone. Working with limited resources in a difOcult environment, it's all the same."

Most recently, 182 volunteers deployed to Wimberley, Texas, in May to assist with massive looding. By press time, volunteers had logged more than 4,000 hours clearing muck and demolishing uninhabitable structures.

"I know to expect devastation and hard work," wrote Lissie Hagerman, an Air Force veteran who volunteered on site in Texas. "What I don't expect is the confluence of events that places me with an incredible team already dispatched and ready to meet the challenges of the day."

Internationally, TR sent volunteers to Nepal after a 7. …

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