I’ve just received word that Team Rubicon is likely sending me back to Houston to help residents there in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. This will be my second trip for the same reason, and I’ve already got a drink-up planned with some local lifelong friends I made there. If you’ve ever watched recovery efforts on the nightly news and wondered what that must be like, I offer you my post from May 2016:
Operation Moonshot Retrospective:
This had been an incredibly humbling and therapeutic experience for me. I cannot find the words to completely and accurately describe the intrinsic benefit from being part of a team providing such tremendous aid to folks who could often do nothing for us, and from whom we sought absolutely nothing in return.
On Day One, I was immediately welcomed into the fold, despite being a civilian; I appreciate the bonds and familiarity between cops and vets. Thank you all for the inclusion.
I arrived midday and helped out around the FOB, which was located in a Home Depot parking lot. While performing some now-unknown task, I noticed how everything outside our fencing was business as usual. Volunteers inside the fencing, and out at the job sites, had come from all over the country; we even had a team from IsraAid who spent 30 hours on planes to come from Israel to help Houston flood victims. Just over the fence, folks bought mulch, picked out palm trees, and went about their normal lives, while many of their neighbors’ homes were on our demo lists. I’m certain the local community provided the vast bulk of the heavy lifting throughout this still-ongoing recovery, but the contradiction between our interstate and international volunteers and the local mulch purchases surprised me.
Clay Hunt’s parents and a few of his friends fed us several times, talked with us about their PTSD Foundation of America, and prayed for us strangers. They housed us at their camp, in real beds, with real showers, and real air conditioning. That was an incredible relief at the end of every long day. Please consider supporting this vital organization if you can; to date, they have helped more than 300 veterans cope with PTSD, and find ways to choose life over suicide
During an evening drinkup, a local realtor recognized our shirts and immediately joined our group. After buying a few rounds and praying over us, he and his wife shared stories, lies, and laughs. Should you ever visit The Farm Drinkery in Houston, you’ll find our Sharpied logo if you look hard enough. Great times with great people.
On Day Three or Four, they all run together, we began prepping a home for demolishing the interior up to 4 feet. Several of us took down the personal items from the fridge, and it struck me how personal a thing we had just been allowed to do. Aged, grainy family photos; wedding invites, an obituary that looked like the owner’s dad; Crayon drawings, presumably from grandchildren; all the memories and gifts they wanted to look at every day. And they trusted a group of strangers in hard hats, gray shirts, and rented trucks to care for them…and then intentionally and carefully destroy the interior of their home. I never take public trust for granted, but I’ve always been wearing a more identifiable uniform when I held it.
We realized one of our own volunteers had quietly been sleeping in his truck and wearing the same clothes for several days while helping us demo, and it turned out he’d lost his home during the floods. I was immediately impressed at how quickly and selflessly our group rallied behind him, handed over our own gear and supplies, and worked to get him resources to help meet his own needs.
The people of Team Rubicon, though, were the second best part of this experience. Thanks for your acceptance, your efforts, and the opportunity to tag along. I’m honored to have been a part of Operation Moonshot, and blessed to be part of TR. Thanks for what you do for vets, first responders, and communities in need. You’re rock stars.
You can learn more about us at www.teamrubiconusa.org. Thanks for helping if you can.