November 11, 2020 by Cathy Stack
Jake Wood, a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan cofounded Team Rubicon. On a mission to Haiti after the 2010 massive earthquake with other former veterans, he realized what an incredible resource former service members are during a humanitarian crisis. "They may have taken the uniform off, but they still have service in their hearts and they still have those incredible skills," said Jake.
"These are men and women who have volunteered to serve in harm's way before," said Wood. He noted that these veterans have already been deployed in some of the most trying circumstances on the planet. They are mentally and physically prepared to tackle almost anything. In return, the veterans find the work of helping others both rewarding and purposeful.
Veterans make up about 70% of Team Rubicon’s member base. They assist with worldwide humanitarian crises by deploying international medical teams. On the domestic front, volunteers respond to natural disasters such as tornadoes or floods. Volunteers typically assist with such tasks as debris removal, search and rescue, and hazard mitigation.
Wood has now put out the call to all his volunteers (more than 120,000) to join the group's nationwide "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" campaign in response to the pandemic. Their goal is to help society’s most vulnerable members and at-risk populations stay safe. Like a well-oiled military machine, Wood's nonprofit mobilizes large-scale operations across the country. Veterans have helped stock food banks and deliver meals to those in need, often partnering with organizations such as Meals on Wheels. Additionally, their volunteers are helping establish and operate critical health care efforts including drive-thru testing sites.
Wood said he believes one of the most effective ways volunteers can help their communities right now is through "individual acts of service.” These acts could be such things as checking on an elderly neighbor or going grocery shopping for someone with a compromised immune system.
During the pandemic alone, Team Rubicon says its volunteers have helped more than half a million people in more than 500 communities around the country.
"We are hoping that Neighbors Helping Neighbors can become a nationwide call to action, to come together in this moment of need," Wood said. “This is about your community. As Americans we will get through this together because that is what Americans do best,” he added optimistically.
PassItOn believes these Veterans are true heroes. They head toward the danger, ready to serve and help any way they can. Their selfless actions are excellent examples of the value of ‘pulling together’. Today, on this Veteran’s Day, please help us honor these heroes for the sacrifices they make and services they offer by sharing this story of humanity at its best.
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photo credit: Team Rubicon Facebook