This was my first operation with Team Rubicon ever. I have been a member since 2016 after signing up based on the recommendation from a classmate in an advanced airway class. He told me a little about what TR did and that they worked with veterans. I was intrigued so I went to the site and signed up.
I was unable to commit prior to this operation. I’m a full-time student who works part-time and also has other volunteering obligations. However, between semesters I received an email asking about my availability for continuing promise. I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity. I submitted my availability and was picked for the Guatemala team! I couldn’t have been more excited.
Before arriving at the National Operations Center (NOC) in Dallas, TX, we had a few conference calls. These calls were my first interaction with the team members. I could tell that there was a lot of experience on those calls and got my first of many doses of humility. After arriving at the NOC and sitting through the first days brief, I was blown away at the space TR had and how well they seemed to take care of the volunteers and employees. They were extremely accommodating and went far out of their way to make sure we were taken care of. When I first got there, I felt relatively confident in my resume and experience thus far. That changed as the day full of briefs went on and on. I quickly realized that I had less experience than most. Once again, I was humbled by just listening to the high caliber of people I was sharing a room with.
I was the third youngest in the group at 32 years old. Many volunteers had 20-30 years of experience in their specialty. My mere 9 seemed like child’s play. I was very pleased to see that this didn’t matter to anyone. We were all there to serve and that’s what everyone cared about. I felt like I fit in right away and immediately felt the “platoon” environment again. I realized how much I missed it. Enroute to Guatemala the comradery only grew. While we were there was a very team-oriented group and culture. Everyone looked out for each other, covered for each other, and went out of their way to take care of everyone else before themselves. Selflessness. This is a quality that I hold in the highest regards. I strive for it daily and am very motivated when I see it in others. TR did not disappoint.
The days were extremely hot, never short of work, and long. It was rewarding to see that we were making a difference for the patients in Guatemala. The people were very appreciative to get care. Selfishly, it was satisfying to help underserved people and feel appreciated.
Upon returning to America, I knew I had formed some lifelong friends and a relationship with an organization that I believed in. This experience has given me something to continue to strive for.