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Operation: Upper Nile – Reflection from Army Veteran Matt Brudnok

While serving in the US Army I was able do many great things, ranging most of the combat engineering spectrum. When I left, the feeling that I could use what I knew for the benefits of others was constant. I found the transition difficult at best. Soon enough though, I was on my way through college yet never really yielding to my desire to get around the world and see if there was anything that I could do for those in need. I find that I prefer to put needs of others who truly need assistance ahead of my own.

I learned of Team Rubicon through an email that had been forwarded to me by my adviser. What I read lit a fire inside that had been absent since leaving the military. I found a group of people who felt as I did in their desire to do more for the world in a hands-on fashion. I met with a TR member the next day and I knew it was a perfect fit.

In mid-July, I found myself in South Sudan using not only my military engineer training to help build a refugee camp but also my photojournalism skills that I had been honing in college. The opportunity to do both was very exciting to say the least; as a whole, the experience helped me as much as it will help those who will be treated by the medical facilities I helped design and build with other TR members on the ground.

While the trip home is bitter-sweet as I feel the engineers had begun a big phase of their plans and it’s difficult to not be able to see the final project done in person. I wish I could of seen the last phase of what I poured myself into while here. However, I am confident in knowing that the incoming TR team is competent and willing to finish the task then move on to whatever the next need of the Gendrassa refugee camp. I hope to return someday and see how our work has directly impacted this little piece of the world and maybe find some of those who I grew close with.

Matt is an Army veteran and WASH specialist from Region 3.