Getting Connected Through Service

Karli Sullivan

Karli Sullivan is a civilian serving her country through Team Rubicon. Read how she grew more connected to the veteran community.

I recently returned home from a week-long deployment to Houston with Team Rubicon, and I keep thinking about two authors who’ve had a profound impact on my life. Brené Brown writes about stepping into the arena; says vulnerability is the key to living a full life. Sebastian Junger speaks extensively of the necessity of community and a sense of purpose and how these things are crucial to thrive and find happiness.

I wanted to help out after Harvey and when I expressed this to an Army veteran friend, he responded with “Check out Team Rubicon.” I logged 15 hours of remote operations for the Crisis Cleanup line before I flew to Houston after Team Rubicon sent an email asking for people to take calls and enter residents’ information into a database for teams on the ground to assess and muck out their homes.

Karli Sullivan is a kick-ass civilian who joined Team Rubicon in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

I thought I had an understanding of what it was going to be like after talking to people for hours. They were in shock. I saw the storm on TV, but to spend 15 hours talking to them was differentI was floored by the emotion in their voices. People should have to work the phones before they deploy. Arriving in Texas, seeing the destruction first hand and speaking to homeowners in person was an emotional rollercoaster. People were devastated by the destruction Harvey brought to their lives and at the same time, cheerful and incredibly grateful we were there to help.

Junger speaks about veterans coming home to a disconnected community that doesn’t understand them or care for a variety of reasons. I’ve always felt a similar disconnect from the very community our veterans return toI crave connection and purpose. In Beaumont, TX, surrounded by strangers who all shared the desire to serve others in a time of crisis, I didn’t see the civilian-military divide, and I certainly didn’t feel like an outsider.

Sitting here now, missing my strike team, I can relate on a microcosmic level to what it must be like to come home from war, or in my case, a disaster, and see everyone going about their normal lives. I have a better understanding because I bonded with a group of people, and home feels a little lonelier without them by my side mucking, sweating, crying, and laughing.

The authors I admire and the messages I’ve been turning over in my head for several years all dovetailed perfectly when I found Team Rubicon. I didn’t serve my country the way veterans did, but in Team Rubicon, I am serving my country. Houston was my arena, and Team Rubicon is, without question, the community I’ve been looking for. After a lifetime of searching, I’ve found my TRibe.

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