In the wake of natural disasters, communities can be devastated, but one volunteer organization is working to get stricken areas back on their feet, while also helping veterans adjust to civilian life and continue their service.
Team Rubicon, a nonprofit based in California, is an emergency response group primarily run by U.S. military veterans. Donna Weathers, a LaGrange native and regional coordinator for Team Rubicon, spoke to local Rotary Club on Wednesday at Highland Country Club.
“Disaster victims often don’t know which way is up,” Weathers told the club. “But what we do is come in, help them figure out which way is up, and then get out of the way and let the community begin to recover.”
Weathers was invited to speak by club member Jason Weldon, who said Weathers’ work paired nicely with the Rotary Club’s motto of “Service above self.”
“I think this was a success, in terms of raising awareness about Team Rubicon,” Weldon said of Weather’s presentation. “Most importantly, when there’s a disaster, people need to be prepared.”
Weathers has been a volunteer with Team Rubicon since January of 2013, when she first deployed to Adairsville after an outbreak of tornadoes there.
Before volunteering with the organization, Weathers lead the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Main Street. She is also a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, where she served as a cryptographer and retired as a chief petty officer.
She explained that many veterans leave military service and have difficulties transitioning to civilian life.
“When you’re 20-something years old and you’ve been a leader in the military, sometimes a leader in combat, and then you get out and your new boss won’t even trust you with the code to the copier, that can be demoralizing,” she said.
Every day, an estimated average of 22 veterans commit suicide, Weathers said. Team Rubicon allows veterans to regain their sense of purpose and importance in society and enables them to ease into civilian life.
Team Rubicon was founded in 2010 by a group of former Marines in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that crippled the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Since then, the organization as responded to more than 60 missions across the U.S. and world. The group also boasts a roster of more than 16,000 volunteers worldwide.
“Team Rubicon puts vets to work in that gap between disaster and long-term recovery,” said Weathers. “It’s really a great opportunity for everyone.”
The organization accepts volunteers of all ages and anyone can volunteer, regardless of whether or not they are a veteran. For more information, visit Team Rubicon on the Web at teamrubicon.org.