Disaster Response and Humanitarian Aid Volunteers Named Greyshirts of the Year

Julie H. Case

Domestic and international deployers earn top honors from Team Rubicon.

When disaster response nonprofit Team Rubicon handed out its annual awards this May, it not only acknowledged the service of nine volunteers—or Greyshirts—with the annual Spirit of Service, Impact, and Downrange awards, it also named one domestically-deploying and one international-deploying volunteer as its Greyshirts of the year. 

Here’s a look at the awards and the awardees. 

Volunteer Tony Aldinger Named Greyshirt of the Year

Every year, Team Rubicon celebrates a Greyshirt whose actions over the course of the year best demonstrated Team Rubicon’s service principles of innovation, impartiality, tenacity, collaboration, accountability, and service to others. While a West Branch Greyshirt took home last year’s award, this year, that honor went to the North Branch’s Tony Aldinger. 

Known as a Greyshirt who can challenge you to think differently, lead with compassion, or step into the unknown, Tony Aldinger is a leader in every sense of the word. Aldinger takes every opportunity to better himself, which translates so well into bettering those around him. 

2023 Greyshirt of the Year, Tony Aldinger.

The first to ask “why are we doing it that way? Have we thought about this?,” Aldinger never wants anyone to settle for the status quo but instead wants to challenge everyone to think of more, create better, and consider the unknowns. In his quest for challenging people to be the best versions of themselves, Aldinger is simply unwavering. He will not settle and reminds us all to never settle. He continues to push for the best in everyone, and truly believes in everyone he mentors. 

His drive to inspire is so dogged that every Wednesday, Team Rubicon Operations Support Associate Breanne Durovic receives a “Wednesday Wisdom” from Aldinger. 

“Sometimes it’s inspirational; sometimes it’s transformational; sometimes it’s maintaining the status quo, but every time it is truly thought-provoking, and somehow, always what I needed to hear at that moment,” says Durovic. 

Durovic also says she’s had the opportunity to work with Tony while an EOC was activated and cannot ignore his impact on the team. “He was more than willing to take on the hard tasks—the tasks no one wanted—all without recognition and all because the job needed to be done, and he was the one to do it. It is difficult to put into words how much of an impact Aldinger has had on both the personal and professional lives of our fellow Greyshirts and the impact he will continue to have throughout his time in Team Rubicon.”

Meet the First-Ever International Deployer of the Year, Dr. Ben Osborne

In 2023, Team Rubicon launched its all-new International Deployer of the Year award to recognize and honor the outstanding contributions and sacrifices made by a Team Rubicon International Greyshirt who dedicated their time to provide lifesaving assistance, comfort, and hope to those who have been impacted by disasters, conflicts, and other humanitarian crises around the world. 

For its first annual International Deployer of the Year award, Team Rubicon acknowledged the service of Ben Osborne. Since joining Team Rubicon in 2021, Dr. Ben Osborne—who also serves as a Medical Director at Cigna Healthcare in Arizona—has deployed internationally to Guatemala, Mongolia, Malawi, and Ukraine. Domestically, he served on Team Rubicon’s Afghan resettlement operations in New Jersey.

2023 International Deployer of the Year, Ben Osborne.

A hard worker who is always willing to work hard and go the extra mile for patients, Osborne is known for his willingness to help with mundane tasks, such as carrying boxes to set up a clinic in order to get to the more complex tasks quicker. 

When it comes to Team Rubicon’s “Mission First, Greyshirt Always” principle, Osborne is known for being willing to do what is needed for the mission to be successful, even if that means changing what he had been doing or what he was going to do. Take, for example, a time in Guatemala when there was a shuffle of interpreters and even which providers were working together. 

While Osborne is a natural leader, he has no problem following the lead of others when that is his role. In addition to demonstrating the cultural principles, he also demonstrates our service principles: In Ukraine, Dr. Osborne was treating patients who were supporting Ukraine as well as patients who were supporting Russia. This was a great example of how he displayed impartiality. Osborne is also revered for his positivity, which is a great morale booster for the team. Osborne also brings his experience to the field to benefit others, regularly mentoring less experienced clinicians—whether they are other Greyshirts or practitioners working in the country where Osborne and team are serving. 

Finally, Osborne has tenacity, a bias for action, and a clear desire to get shit done, but will never compromise quality of care—he is an efficient and safe clinician. This is why many Greyshirts comment on the fact that it is always an honor and privilege to get to work with Dr. Ben Osborne.

Read: Volunteers Recognized with 2023 Spirit of Service, Impact, and Downrange Awards

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