Back in the Saddle After 33 Years

Jeff Snethen

Jeff is a Coast Guard veteran and Team Rubicon volunteer residing in Wisconsin. After his time in uniform, he spent over three decades in the building products industry, managing sales in the Midwest while finding quality time with his grandson and his Harley.

My first experience with Team Rubicon was actually an event that came at the perfect time in my life. It almost didn’t happen, but thanks to a persistent daughter it did, and I am very thankful.

Father-daughter duo Bobbi and Jeff Snethen deployed on Operation Fox Yeah to provide flood relief in McHenry, IL.

When I arrived on Operation Fox Yeah in McHenry, IL, I was welcomed with a grey shirt and a red hat. They told me to get ready for the morning briefing and find your strike team leader. WTF? I just got here. It’s been 33 years since I was discharged from the United States Coast Guard, and I had forgotten some of my military bearings.

During the briefing, it was all positive, letting everyone know how the previous day went, how many work orders were completed, what lies ahead, and how grateful the community felt to have us in town. With that, we all said a “Fox Yeah” instigated by incident commander Traci Rankin, and I went to meet up with my strike team.

Dozens of volunteers assembled in the parking lot of Home Depot before descending upon their work orders for the day.

Our first job involved removing some sandbags with the help of the Dogwood Foundation and their four-wheelers and trailer. I was working with five other veterans I had never met and my daughter Bobbi Jo. Believe me, I was working my ass off wanting to keep up and contribute to the lifting and loading, but the work meant a whole lot more than that for me.

Within two hours of arriving, I met some great people and accomplished a task that helped someone who suffered the wrath of Mother Nature. The next day, I was in a crawl space with an Aussie (Maddie) and Danimal from Hawaii pulling waterlogged insulation a raccoon probably wanted to make a home in. Amazing stuff.

Sandbagging is not for the faint-hearted.

Since I left the service, I only worked for large corporations in a 32-year career selling wholesale building products. I rarely worked alongside other veterans, and the week before this deployment, I left that career and the corporate world all together. I discovered something very special in Team Rubicon after just a few days of working alongside veterans and civilians, men and women from all races, backgrounds, and upbringings. The mission is powerful – helping disaster-stricken communities in need and those who serve them. The people are very special.

I was so tired after I got home, but I was walking again with my head held high and telling everyone about my experience. Maybe they all didn’t understand, but I think most did because they said I really sounded happy, which had not been the case the last few months working at my former career.

I just realized how many awesome people there are still in this world and doing good things without expecting anything. Most of all, they do it professionally and with kindness and compassion.

Quite frankly, I had given up on quite a few of these things in this new world we live in today, but after one operation with TR, I am in a much better place in life.

Jeff prepares himself for a couple hours inside a crawl space removing flooded insulation from a lakeside home.

I want to shout out to some of the incredible people I met: Brandon, Patrick, Jon, Maddie (Aussie), Dan (Danimal), Tracie, Sue, Pappy, Roberto, Ryan, Steve, Dominick, Pat, Lloyd , Mush, AC, most of all my daughter Bobbi Jo. Thanks to all of you for the friendship and working together with me to accomplish some very cool stuff. You are all awesome people. I look forward to the next time we can help make a difference in someone’s life.

Semper Paratus.