When disaster strikes – including the current devastating floods in Houston – there is one group unique qualified, and now mobilized, to respond to the crisis. Over the past decade a new form of military service organization has been created. And unlike groups designed to give back to veterans – these groups are comprised of veterans giving back even more to their local communities.
As you watch the coverage in Houston, you’ll notice one group in action, an organization uniquely equipped to handle the uncertainty – Team Rubicon. The organization was founded following the 2010 earthquake in Port au Prince Haiti. A couple of veterans saw the destruction on the news, and realized it shared a close resemblance with what they’d already experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan – and they wanted to help. After contacting a few service organizations to see how they could volunteer, they realized there wasn’t really an organization at the ready to take the unique skills veterans have and deploy it for disaster response.
“They proved the premise that military veterans could provide excellent aid following a disaster,” said David Burke, vice president of programs and field operations for Team Rubicon.
And they’ve been serving ever since.
Team Rubicon conducted 33 operations in 2017 alone – all of them domestic operations. They respond to floods, fires, tornadoes, and a number of other unique operations. Their network includes 47,000 volunteers, and they follow the FEMA regional structure to group volunteers.
When a disaster like Hurricane Harvey hits, trained volunteers from Team Rubicon mobilize to provide assistance. And its often the exact training they received in the military that they’re able to put to use on the ground.
When you look at military jobs, you can find every kind of military job required in a disaster situation, noted Burke. Veterans have experience with water purification, building engineering, logistics, triage – a host of abilities needed in any disaster.
The other qualification veterans have? A willingness and desire to help.
“Every veteran of the current conflicts, the post 9/11 veteran, has volunteered to serve,” said Burke. Veterans have the strong sense of service, skills and experience, Burke emphasized. “If they see something wrong, they make it better.”
Team Rubicon reports they’ve rescued at least 35 residents as of noon Tuesday. They’re also continuing to bring in more trained volunteers and boat teams, and expect operations to continue rescue operations for the next three to four days. But they emphasize the work won’t stop there – they expect to mobilize hundreds of veterans and volunteers to support Houston with clean up efforts.
Wondering how you can help veterans respond to Hurricane Harvey? Visit Team Rubicon to see how you can donate funds that will go directly to Team Rubicon’s response efforts. If you’re a veteran willing to serve, you can also learn more about how you can sign up to help with clean-up efforts, or to provide support when the next disaster hits.