What My Greyshirt Brought Me

Jerome Deniz

Jerome Deniz served 8 years as a linguist in the Navy, deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as several countries in the Pacific Rim. After the military, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Chinese Studies from George Mason University. He joined Team Rubicon in November 2013 after being introduced to the organization by Palantir during Typhoon Haiyan and currently serves as the Mobile Training Center Associate.

It’s been nearly 4 years since I first signed up with Team Rubicon, and in that time span, I’ve had the opportunity to deploy on domestic and international operations, attend leadership conferences, multiple training offerings, and meet people from all over the world. There is one thing I always take away from each interaction with my fellow Greyshirts, and that is the shared sense of purpose and belonging that comes after spending a week or two sweating, cursing, and working together on a strike team.

Recently I spent some time with many kickass members of TR on Operation Fox Yeah, and without fail, at the end of the first workday, I knew I had forged bonds with people that would last a lifetime.

The work we do in the field has the unique ability to bring people together, whom, prior to arriving, never imagined they’d leave with countless new friends. All willing to drop anything to help out.

I keep focusing on the camaraderie building aspect because I believe that if you throw someone who feels they have lost their sense of purpose in the field with a rambunctious group of Greyshirts, they will most certainly come back to the FOB not only feeling good about the work they accomplished, but they’ll know that everyone out there with them will have their back. There aren’t many organizations out there that can provide that to their members.

As I was flying home from Op Fox Yeah, I received some dire news, that a friend of mine I knew from Team RWB in Hawaii had taken her own life. At first I was completely shocked and sad, hoping and praying that it wasn’t true. After I gathered my thoughts and emotions, I started thinking back to my time on Op Fox Yeah. I encountered a number of folks who admitted they were having a rough time personally, yet when they were in the field, they expressed a sense of hope and pride in what they were doing, and felt like all the pieces of their life were coming back together.

This leads me back to my friend…what if she had found her way to Team Rubicon? Would the same result have occurred? I will never know the answer to that question, but I am certain that the work Team Rubicon does affects those feeling down and out in a positive way, and can help them in regaining that sense of belonging, purpose, and self.

With that, I urge anyone who feels they are having a tough time, to reach out and talk to a friend, a loved one, or your fellow Greyshirt. You are not alone, and you can always count on your TRibe to be there for you.