Navy Veteran Karen Bump Reflects on Operation: Rising Eagle

Mike Lee

Mike Lee, a native of Chicago, graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Creative Writing. At LMU, Mike developed international and domestic volunteer trips and served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Student Veterans Organization. Mike’s professional background is in advertising and marketing, and has experience in executing large print and digital campaigns for non-profit and tourism clients. He lives in Los Angeles where he thinks a lot about dogs, bourbon, and the Chicago Bears.

Since retiring from the Navy in 2007, I’ve worked at two companies, started my own business, took up riding a Harley, went to Sturgis, and pursued other endeavors to get reacquainted with that feeling of accomplishment. I’ve been trying to enjoy life and find my way.

Then I found Team Rubicon and deployed for the first time to Operation: Rising Eagle in Arkansas. Once I arrived on station around fellow vets and began helping people,  I realized what I’d been missing and longing for— the love, camaraderie, and support from people who understand my work ethic and share the same compassion for helping those who cannot help themselves. This experience is one I want to continue.

Seeing fellow vets with visible war injuries, along with others whose injuries are internal, go out every day to help the families in need with no hesitation is  truly inspiring.  It reminds me that, “Hey, that is what we do!”  We are vets through and through, and not only do we have each other’s backs, but also those of the families that need us. And when these families come up to us and thank us, it nearly breaks my heart because they have no idea what that means to us, as they are the ones who’ve lost so much and forced to start over. They’re so brave, kind, and thankful, and it just makes us want to do more.

Navy veteran Karen Bump (far left) helped recover a framed picture for an appreciative Mayflower resident whose home had been destroyed by the tornado. It was the one thing requested by the homeowner and was salvaged without a single crack.
Navy veteran Karen Bump (far left) helped recover a framed picture for an appreciative Mayflower resident whose home had been destroyed by the tornado. It was the one thing requested by the homeowner and was salvaged without a single crack.

Team Rubicon has been a medication I sorely needed and it is healing a lot of my wounds, allowing me to be part of something so much bigger than myself. TR also allows me to reunite and meet fellow vets from all eras of the wars, share experiences, and make new friends that I might need to lean on one day.

Team Rubicon, you have filled a big hole in my heart that I did not even know was there since I retired.  Call me any time to deploy and help my fellow neighbors through hard times. I will be there!

-Karen Bump, Region 9