From Kentucky to Ukraine, Veterans Spend 2022 in Service

Julie H. Case

For Veterans Day, a look at some places veterans have been applying their experiences in the military to disaster relief and humanitarian aid this year.

Disasters may be Team Rubicon’s business, but veterans are its passion. That’s due in part to the fact that the nonprofit was founded by veterans 12 years ago and that more than 60% of its volunteers today are veterans, reserve, or active duty military.

In 2022, those veteran volunteers seem to have decided that disasters, and disaster survivors, are their passion: Already, 1,640 veterans have deployed on at least one operation with Team Rubicon this year. That includes the 173 veterans deployed on Veterans Day—167 in Florida assisting with Hurricane Ian recovery and six in Wyoming assisting homeowners with wildfire mitigation. 

Here’s a look at how U.S. military veterans have already served on some of Team Rubicon’s largest operations in 2022. 

41 Veterans Deliver Humanitarian Aid in Ukraine

Of the 77 Greyshirts who deployed to Ukraine in 2022 to provide medical aid to internally displaced persons and to train medical providers in the country, more than half were U.S. military veterans. 

23 U.S. Air Force Veterans Among Those Who Serve Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico this August, 257 Greyshirts volunteered to assist the island with recovery, including 146 veterans and five active duty military. James Golia was one of the 23 Air Force veterans who served in response to Hurricane Fiona this year.

Watch: U.S. Air Force veteran James Golia on why he serves today. 

“There’s something in my DNA that I’m attracted to chaos, and no matter what, I’m going to do whatever I can to help people,” says Golia of his time as a Greyshirt. “It gives me the opportunity to fulfill and support and carry on everything that I did in the military.” 

127 Marines and 20 Coast Guard Among the 700+ Veterans Taking on Hurricane Ian in Florida

Of the 1,376 Greyshirts who have already deployed to Charlotte, Desoto, Lee, Polk, and Volusia counties since Hurricane Ian hit, 710 have been veterans, with every branch represented—including one active duty Space Force member and 127 Marine Corps veterans. 

134 U.S. Army Veterans Help Muck Out Kentucky

After the devastating flooding hit Appalachia this summer, Greyshirts—and veterans from all branches of service—responded in droves. Of the 323 U.S. military veterans who spent a week (or more) in Kentucky, 134 were U.S. Army veterans.

Watch: U.S. Army Veteran Kori Brown reflects on finding a place in the TRibe. 

49 Navy Among the Hundreds of Veterans Who Helped Resettle Afghans

Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban in 2021 hit many U.S. military veterans hard, especially those who had done tours in Afghanistan. Feeling the need to help some of the thousands of Afghan interpreters, fixers, drivers, and other brave men and women who helped to ensure American forces had what they needed for mission success over their two decades in Afghanistan, Team Rubicon stepped in to help resettle displaced Afghans in the U.S.

Watch: U.S. Navy veteran Beau Rodriguez on how honor, courage, and commitment shapes him. 

“As an individual, there is little I can do to impact the pain and suffering in the world. I can’t change governments, get people to let go of their prejudice and hate or make them see reason. What I can do is this. Serve one person at a time. One family at a time,” said U.S. Navy veteran Neil Karp, who helped resettle Afghan families in Portland, OR. 

In 2022 alone, 332 U.S. veterans helped resettle Afghans in the U.S.  

As of this Veterans Day, 1,640 veterans have provided disaster relief and humanitarian aid with Team Rubicon in 2022 on one or more operations. 

Watch: Marine Chuck Benford talks about learning to apply Team Rubicon’s formula for disaster relief to his own life. 

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