CONTINUED ON PAGE 122
LIKE A LOT of military veterans, Costco
member Jake Wood felt adrift when he
returned home from tours of duty in Iraq
and Afghanistan as a sergeant in the
Marine Corps. When the ;;;; Haiti earthquake struck about three months later, he
felt driven to help and flew there with
seven other veterans and first responders.
“It had so many parallels to a battle-
field,” Wood says. “It was really the equiv-
alent of running a counterinsurgency
patrol: working with local populations,
managing and mitigating risks, logistics.
We thought: Man, this is everything we’ve
been trained for, just without guns.”
Out of that hellish experience, Wood,
with fellow Marine William McNulty,
co-founded Team Rubicon (teamrubicon
usa.org), a nonprofit organization that
uses the service-honed skills of both U.S.
and foreign military veterans to respond
to disasters around the world.
With more than ;;,;;; members and
;;; operations conducted, Team Rubicon
has used its volunteers’ battlefield training
to provide relief after Superstorm Sandy in
New York and New Jersey; a ;;;; tornado
in Moore, Oklahoma; and, most recently,
hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
At least ;,;;; Team Rubicon volun-
teers deployed to Texas for hurricane relief
efforts, servicing more than ;;; homes
and conducting ;; floodwater rescues
and ;; animal evacuations. Even
before Irma made landfall, Team
Rubicon had set up equipment to
support critical needs such as
water operations and debris
management, deploying ;;;
volunteers to Florida. Still
more volunteers were sent to Puerto Rico
in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Responding to natural calamities in
constructive ways fulfills a longed-for
sense of mission in Team Rubicon volunteers that is often lacking in their civilian
lives. The organization’s pillars of purpose,
community and identity can have a transformative effect. Wood says that spouses
thank him for “restoring the person they’d
married and how it’s helped them rediscover who they were.”
For Wood, the goal of making Team
Rubicon a permanent fixture in American
society is audacious, practical and necessary. “Disasters are getting worse, and
they’re getting more costly,” he says. “At
the same time, we’ve got ;; million veterans in this country. We’re trying to build
the equivalent of a ;;st-century volunteer
fire department by providing a framework
for these men and women to serve on the
front lines of their communities. We have
ambitions to change how America thinks
about its veterans and how it thinks about
disaster response.”—Robert Lerose
AIR FORCE Lieutenant Colonel Matt
Butler has been on ;; different deployments. While deployments can be intense,
there are times when nothing much is
going on. On one of those occasions, Butler
was staring out at the desert landscape,
remembering the lawn games he often
played as a child. This led to an idea for a
new game—and a way to help military vets.
The idea was Rollors ( rollors.com), a
game played with colorful wooden disks
and movable goals. “It’s a cross between
bocce and horseshoes,” says Butler. During
a deployment in ;;;;, he turned to military
veterans he knew from the service or the
community to help build the game.
The original manufacturers of the
game were out-of-work veterans who were
woodworkers. They had the knowledge and
ability to prototype and make the games.
The process has taught Butler a lot
about the value of working with veterans.
“I know how persistent and how capable
and how dedicated folks that are either in
the military or have been in the military
are,” he says. “I feel the military has given
[us] all these keys and attributes that we
need to be entrepreneurs. We set our
sights on an objective and a goal, and we
plan it out, and we go and accomplish what
we are trying to achieve.
“I want to keep working with veterans,” Butler says. “They’re a great bunch
A Team Rubicon
co-founder Jake Wood.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch Team Rubicon in
action. (See page 9 for details.)