I walked into Operation: Double Trouble the night before it kicked off a little over a month ago. As I entered through the doors, I see only one face I know. My heart sinks, missing the safety net of family I built over the last year with other volunteers. But the further I go in, I’m greeted with hugs and offers of help to bring my things inside. Instantly I know I’m home.
It’s difficult to put into writing what Team Rubicon does for people. This organization not only is “boots-on-the-ground” help for disaster-ridden communities or hope for those who have seemingly lost so much. TR allows anyone to lend a hand or sledge where it can be used most. It’s also lifeline for veterans who have lost their cause.
For a few years after I stepped down from my military service, I went on with my life. I felt as if I everything was just going by. Team Rubicon fell into my lap by chance. I completed the training just for kicks, and then suddenly an operation opened up, and a few weeks later I deployed.
I didn’t know how lost I was until I found my family.
“Humbled” was the word I used most when describing my first deployment. There are dozens of stories I could tell from Operation: Rising Eagle in Arkansas last year. My most memorable is from an elderly farmer our team helped on multiple occasions. I saw him stopped on a back road staring out onto his fields. I stopped to talk and check in with him to see if he needed anything. We talked about many things that morning, but the biggest takeaway from our conversation was that no matter the damage Mother Nature could bestow upon him, he would survive, and Team Rubicon had helped. As he teared up, he kissed my cheek, put his hand on my shoulder, and told me I was his blessing from God that day.
Anyone who’s really gotten to know me understands why this humbled me. I’m covered in tattoos, swear like the sailor I was brought up to be, and have a terribly crude sense of humor. Many adjectives have been used to describe me, and “blessing” was a first.
This is one of the reasons I’ve developed such a passion for TR. Sure, I love to put a fubar through a wall, throw debris as hard as I can, and be so sweaty and exhausted at the end of the day I can hardly function. But what I truly love is helping people. The hugs and tearful handshakes break down my rough edges and bring me back to my passion for being a part of the solution. I’m a part of something much bigger than myself. I have a purpose again. It’s more than getting a case of the feels. I have sat up many nights having heart to hearts with other members, and we all get something different out of this work you can’t find anywhere else.
I’ve heard many times over the years that only 1 percent of the country serves in our Armed Forces. An even smaller number volunteers to head downrange with Team Rubicon. It takes a certain type of person, a particular mindset.
These people are a different breed, you cannot break us down. We always want more. There is no label or stereotype that fits a Team Rubicon member. I have run across kids in their teens to a 78-year-old man. Many different backgrounds, religions, body types, ages, and sexual orientation. Team Rubicon as a community will look you in your weathered eyes and take your rough edges for who you are, and you too, will know you’re home.
I will always stand behind Team Rubicon and what they do for communities in need and the volunteers who keep them going. I had the logo tattooed on the back of my right arm knowing that if I fall, they are always there to catch me.
Love you, TR Nation.