In 2010, a team of 8 veterans travelled to Haiti to provide aid immediately after the 2010 earthquake. It was there on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Jacob Wood and William McNulty realized a simple truth – natural disasters present many of the same problems that confront troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: unstable populations, limited resources, horrific sights, sounds and smells. The skills cultivated on those same battlefields – emergency medicine, risk assessment and mitigation, teamwork and decisive leadership – are invaluable in disaster zones.
Upon their return, Jacob Wood and William McNulty founded Team Rubicon, a veteran led disaster response organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Team Rubicon’s primary mission is to “bridge the gap” between the moment a disaster happens and the point at which conventional aid organizations respond. The “gap” is primarily time; the crucial window following a disaster when victims have traditionally been without outside aid.
Team Rubicon sets itself apart in the nonprofit world with its dual mission. Team Rubicon is not only a disaster relief organization but a veteran-focused enterprise. Thousands of US military veterans, many returning home after fighting a decade of war, find a renewed mission while using their skills with Team Rubicon. For many veterans, this continued service provides the elements of Purpose, Community and Self-Worth that often are difficult to find after taking off the uniform. For some veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other difficulties during the transition from military to civilian life, finding purpose though service has literally saved their life.
Since its creation in 2010, Team Rubicon has grown to 15,000 members and conducted 53 operations impacting thousands of lives in Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan, Philippines, and here at home in Vermont, Maryland, Missouri, Alabama and New Jersey. In 2013, Team Rubicon engaged 87,282 hours of service, an estimated value of nearly 2 million dollars. “Our Volunteers take time from their families, jobs and the comforts of home to help others –for no gain other than fulfilling a continued sense of purpose. For them, a simple thank you and an occasional hug is worth more than any paycheck.” – Jake Wood, CEO and co-founder of Team Rubicon
Recognized by Time Magazine, Newsweek, New York Times, Huffington Post, Forbes.com, CNN, USA Today, MSNBC, NBC Nightly News and 60 Minutes for their tremendous success, Team Rubicon was “really just an unintended outcome of our first mission to Haiti,” according to Jacob Wood, and was developed due to the overwhelming response from veterans around the world searching for ways to serve.
Hearts on Fire is thrilled to feature Jacob Wood and William McNulty, co-founders of Team Rubicon as our Visionaries of the Week. Jacob served four years in the United States Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan, graduated Scout-Sniper School at the top of his class and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with “V” for valor in the face of the enemy while in Iraq. William served in both infantry and intelligence and worked in support of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Council’s Iraq Threat Finance Cell. Jake and Will are currently working to create international organizations in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Norway and the Philippines so that they can give veterans around the world the same opportunity to continue to serve through disaster response.