Your Deployment Story-Yeller

Sedef Buyukataman

Public Information Officer, Sedef Buyukataman, shares how she supports Team Rubicon volunteers on deployments.

If you’d have asked me a year ago what a PIO (Public Information Officer) was, I would’ve shrugged and made up some snappy response like, pink ice ostrich? I dunno. I’m a (kickass) civilian I am still learning the lingo. During my first deployment with Team Rubicon, I was assigned as the PIO. I’ve treasured the title ever since.

Wildland firefighter training was happening in California this past week. The plan was four days of classroom training, a physical field test, and potential certification for seasonal firefighter work. Badass instructors came from the Bureau of Land Management and Team Rubicon.  Awesome, ooh-rah and all that, right?! Well, it’s totally not my thing. I love all TR volunteers but I am not on the hulk-smash end of the TR spectrum; I got heat exhaustion in Houston, TX, and pneumonia in Sonoma, CA. I’m only comms, I accept that, and I’m happy.
The trainees in Thousand Oaks, CA
But that’s just the thing, I don’t have to dive into the fire to be accepted in this community. I get shit done in other ways. I talk to homeowners and dole out hugs and sympathy as needed. I respectfully uncover the stories of our Greyshirts and figure out what motivates them to move the mountains they do. I amplify stories that motivate others to join our community. I take pictures and deal with media so volunteers don’t have to. Sometimes I even get to help name operations, which is cool, I’m not gonna lie. For all of this, I’m accepted and valued by my TRibe. Not everyone is right for every role, but there really is a role for everyone.
When I arrived at training this weekend, I was a last minute addition. No one on site really knew I was coming and I had no idea who would be there. It didn’t matter though. There were close to 120 people in the class and I kept seeing faces I knew: Michael, Sully, and Rachel from Friendswood (round 1). Morgan, Phil, and Robert from Sonoma, CA. The list goes on. I was excited to reunite with people who I’d do anything for and who would give their everything to help those in need. I couldn’t have felt more at home.
Veterans aren’t the only ones who find their purpose through service in Team Rubicon. I’m living proof that those of us who would have never survived boot camp can find a home in this TRibe too. While you badasses go running into the fire, I’ll be telling the world your story and waiting with a fresh pair of socks for you when you come out.
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