First responders, civilians, and veterans can all face the struggles of depression. For me, that battle goes back to 2008, probably before then even. None of us are immune and we all cope with it in our own way. One of my struggles was understanding if it all was worth it. The years as a firefighter, or an EMT, the years as a Soldier, or the years since then. When you stick around long enough, when you talk to people often enough, you start to hear stories that tell me it was all worth it.
There are few things better than hearing from one of your former Soldiers or a former Battle Buddy and hearing something I said or did make a difference in their lives. Few things better than hearing from a college friend from the National Guard days that you changed their life. Very few things when you have a chance encounter with a patient or a patient’s mother years after you crossed paths with them on their worst day, and they remember you. But sometimes, that life where you had such an impact tends to fade away. Injuries, anxiety, family life changes can take you away from that world.
Then along comes Team Rubicon (TR). When I first joined TR back in 2012, I loved it – I loved the camaraderie most of all. Living on a twin bed in a mud hut was the perfect place for me to be. The work I did was amazing, the people were awesome, the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Then injuries happened, life changed, and I often wondered what I would do next. I wondered if I could ever leave an impression on another person’s life.
Along rolls 2015 and this bright idea gets floated around, as a joke at first, with me and Carol McCoy, our Regional Administrator at that time. What if we hosted simultaneous events at one location? The more we talked, the more things we wanted to lump together. At its peak, we had a list of over 15 events we could potentially host simultaneously. Those caffeine-addled thoughts and squirrel-chasing conversations gave birth to MOBEX Trigger (MOBEX is short for “mobilization exercise”).
Trigger was the first event of its kind where training, service projects, and leadership development came together in one event. With the help of Rob Ulrey, the Trigger concept was publicly launched at the National Leadership Conference in Chicago. Trigger was real, and it was going to happen. Fast-forward 6 months, we launched MOBEX Trigger with a remote exercise, involving 20 TR volunteers from across the nation. Three days later, our advanced party landed in Omaha, NE ready to welcome 122 TR volunteers coming in from every region. It was amazing!
I was able to ride the high coming off of Trigger for a while. Other MOBEX’s came to fruition from coast to coast, but a year later, the high was gone, the injuries and life reminded me of the glory days and how they were a memory. I was lucky enough to make a few deployments in 2017.
Then it happened. I ran into volunteers who had their first experience at Trigger and were now active, volunteers who had become more engaged with Team Rubicon and volunteers who have grown into Regional Leaders, national employees, and amazing Command and General Staff leadership. I heard stories about friendships and bonds that were born of Trigger, and I heard stories of people’s lives who were affected, bringing them back from the brink of suicide. Looking at these stories and looking at the growth I have seen, I realized that I was a part of their experience, that I had a positive impact, a tangible impact, on others.
This story is not all about me, and how I feel, though. It goes beyond that. This story is about how one person can influence the lives of others. And how those people can have an effect on others and so on, and so on.
Changing the world starts with us and can grow exponentially from there. We have a positive effect on the homeowners and families we serve in times of disaster; we have a positive impact on those we serve in our service projects, be the effect we have on each other, as brothers and sisters in Grey. Regardless of our position in Team Rubicon, we can help people grow. We can help them be better people. We can help folks impact others. We can use our skills and desire to serve to be a positive cog everywhere we go.