Stepping in to the Arena: My First Deployment with TR in South Texas

Nancy Wile

Team Rubicon volunteer Nancy Wile shares her experience on stepping into the arena with TR for the first time during Operation Magic Valley in Hidalgo County, TX.

The decision to participate with Team Rubicon began with my military son’s involvement, eventually leading to my civilian daughter volunteering with TR last year on an operation in Beaumont, TX following Hurricane Harvey. At that time, I told my daughter I wished I wasn’t “so old” as I was nearing retirement because I would LOVE to do what she had done! She assured me that there were all sorts of volunteers needed within Team Rubicon, assuring me that I would be able to do it.

So, despite a little anxiety about the unknown, I began the journey of becoming a Greyshirt; completing deployment basics online and attending a few local regional classes. Now I was deployment ready! I received the notification about Operation Magic Valley at the perfect time. After submitting my availability to deploy, I anxiously waited for further direction. It wasn’t long before dispatch orders arrived, confirming my selection to deploy. I was beyond excited, but still a bit nervous! This wasn’t like anything I’ve ever done before.

With my dispatch orders in hand and my Go Bag packed, it was time to deploy to South Texas on Operation Magic Valley. Travel day arrived and I was off to the airport. I was definitely excited, but feeling slightly out of my comfort zone as I headed into the “unknown.” Newly retired, I still wanted to feel relevant and able. I was anxious to see if I could cut it. My daughter suggested that I wear my grey shirt as a way to show my pride as a volunteer in Team Rubicon, and as a way for other Greyshirts to know I was also heading to the Operation. This was great advice. Just as she said, Greyshirts from all over met up along each leg of the trip and we quickly became friends.

After arriving in Weslaco, TX, I realized that in addition to being part of a great organization and sharing stories with many other Greyshirts from across the country, I was able to participate in several different opportunities to help members of the local community who were impacted by recent flooding in Hidalgo County.

My teammate and I walked door-to-door in an affected neighborhood, checking to see if anyone could use our help. Their responses varied. Some had many family members helping and had things “under control.” Then, there were those who said, “No, there are others who are in more need.” And, there were those who were grateful to have someone “lend a helping hand.”

Engaging with the local community early in this operation was important. Another way we helped was by volunteering with the local food bank, distributing water, food, and cleaning supplies. For two hours there was a steady stream of cars. Unfortunately, the need outweighed the supplies that quickly ran out.

The next day was the ultimate test for me. I got my first experience with TR core capability operations – mucking out a home with my assigned strike team. Could I do it? Feeling relieved, with only some minor stiff muscles, I am thrilled to say, “YES.” I have NEVER sweat so much in my life before, but it came with such a sense of accomplishment! My team “kicked ass” and “got shit done.” After completing one house and moving on to the next the following day, I was filled with thoughts and emotions from all these new experiences. Most of all, while doing something to make this world a better place, I found relevance and found out what it means to “step into the arena” to help people on their worst day. I am happy to say I am a Team Rubicon Greyshirt!

  • Feature Story

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Essential to Disaster Resilience 

    To better serve the environment and community preparedness, connect the three Rs of waste management and environmentalism to response, recovery, and resilience.

  • Reflection

    A Better Tomorrow

    A volunteer responding to tornadoes in Ohio gets a glimpse at the hidden value of the work Greyshirts do.

  • Preparedness

    How to Prepare Your Pets for Disaster

    From leashes for Fido to carriers for Kitty, here are our top disaster preparedness for pets tips to add to your emergency planning now.

Read More Stories