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Team Rubicon: ‘Disasters Are Our Business; Veterans Are Our Passion’

Team Rubicon: ‘Disasters Are Our Business; Veterans Are Our Passion’

Team Rubicon (TR) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and international organization that utilizes the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Founded in 2010 by U.S. Marines William McNulty and Jacob “Jake” Wood, TR has deployed across the United States and around the world to provide immediate relief to those impacted by disasters and humanitarian crises.

TR identifies itself as a veteran service organization that uses disaster response to help reintegrate veterans back into civilian life. TR’s primary mission is to provide disaster relief to those affected by natural disasters, be they domestic or international. By pairing skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals, and technology solutions, TR aims to provide the greatest service and impact possible.

Like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), TR deploys their disaster and crisis response teams to 10 regions around the U.S. Our local TR is in the fourth region, spanning from North Carolina to Florida.

One of our Upstate Warrior Solution (UWS) volunteers, a marine veteran who served from 1966-67, Bob Rice, deployed on two of TR’s crisis response teams for their fourth region. He deployed to Houston, located in TR’s sixth region, in November 2017 about a week before the Thanksgiving Holiday. The next year, in December 2018, he deployed within his fourth region to Florida a week before the Christmas holiday.

He stumbled upon TR when he came across an interview by one of their founders: Jake, a retired marine sniper and UW Badger. In the video, they were interviewing a big-muscled marine, and he remembered the marine said, “What you have to realize is you’re all struggling.” After he watched that interview, he signed up to volunteer with TR and waited for them to email him and the rest of the 80,000 volunteers with a need from disaster, such as a hurricane, tornado, fire, or flood.

He responded as soon as he got an email for a need in Houston, Texas. He deployed the week before Thanksgiving in 2017 for eight days. The first and last days were designated by TR to travel; the other six were designated by TR for disaster or crisis response. TR flew him out to Houston, and he unpacked his suitcase and settled into his portable bunk bed, nestled with the others in a military-esque fashion.

Along with the bunk beds, TR set up portable showers, their own water supply, and tents, assembled for different meetings, as well as an electronic warfare center across the street in a tractor trailer. There was also a kitchen, where they ate breakfast with 40 to 50 other people. TR brought plenty of food, water, soft drinks, and even beer, which can be drunk in the evenings, for an allotted period of time.

The day after he got settled in to the camp, he went to eat with everyone at 7 a.m. Around 7:30 or 8 a.m., they got ready and went to check their job for the day in the group, or work crew, they were assigned on the first day.

Throughout the six days of work in Houston, he was assigned two of the four different types of work. There were those who are trained to go in with chainsaws, those who spray an anti-mold chemical, those who wipe it down, and those who help rebuild or reconstruct. He, along with all of the other work crews, had to wear protection, which is provided by TR along with vehicles and gear.

“I’m happy to just do a small part. I’m happy to do what I can. It’s good work,” he said.

The next year, he got an email for a need in Florida. When it was time to deploy, knowing he would receive reimbursement, he drove down to TR’s camp, settled in a warehouse about 100 yards long and 50 or 60 yards wide with rows and rows of portable bunk beds near one another, military-style. Throughout the six days he worked, he was in the same team, despite hundreds of people transitioning into the camp every day he was there.

When you want to look for good people, you’ll find them. They’re everywhere.” He continued, “This place [Upstate Warrior Solution] is one of them.”