Sitting on the Sidelines Wasn’t an Option

Jonah Thompson

"I'm part of a new unit, I have a new mission, and I've found that camaraderie I was missing."

After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, I decided I’d had enough. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore. Harvey impacted a community I’d worked in, and I also had friends affected by the storm. In addition, Irma and Maria had impacted places where I was stationed. It got to a point where donating money to an organization wasn’t filling my desire to help.

I’d heard about Team Rubicon before and wanted to make a difference in any way I could. So I signed up to join. I arrived in Wharton, TX ready to “Kick-Ass and Get Shit Done.” While conducting damage assessments, I realized many of the people in the community were doing all they could to just get back to normalcy.
I was amazed and, at times, overwhelmed by their gratitude for a team of strangers from across the country just rolling in to help this small rural town.

Even as the town was recovering, we – the “aid providers” – were being housed, fed, and taken care of by this community. My faith in America and the world was being restored. We had Australians, Canadians, Norwegians, and a whole beautiful stew of Americans working hard. I remember my conversation with a lady working to get the community center back in operation, and while we agreed we experience challenges, in the end, rich, poor, black, white, young or old – we were all human.

It really hits you when a man is thanking you for taking his 58-year-old home down to its studs. Before Team Rubicon, he didn’t know how he would rebuild or even where he would live. We helped him find those answers.

Since I left the Coast Guard, people have asked me what I miss the most. I always tell them the camaraderie. After taking part in Operation Hard Hustle, I realized I also missed the mission and sense of accomplishment. But now I’m part of a new unit, I have a new mission, and I’ve found that camaraderie I was missing.

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