Blogs » The Art of DOING something.... » Personal Reflections from the Hurricane Isaac Disaster Zone


(I deployed as a Team Rubicon member in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Isaac and was asked to write a "Personal Reflection" exploring my thoughts and feelings about both the mission and the Team Rubicon experience...)

Team Rubicon “Personal Reflections” PW Covington 1 Sept 2012

As the men and women that chose to serve in the post- 9/11 military have begun to return to civilian lives in towns and cities across America, the entire nation seems to be hearing more and more about how its most recent Veterans are re-integrating themselves into their personal post-military worlds.

Unfortunately, most of what those with no personal connection to a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine are hearing from media, entertainment, and other sources is not painting a positive or entirely accurate picture. YES, 18 Veterans a day on average are choosing to end their lives, and many thousands of others struggle daily to best manage war-related injuries and conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yes, there are serious changes that need to be made within the military itself, as well as to VA and other programs designed to assist men and women in their transition from military service to a civilian lifestyle. But, what is too often overlooked by a civilian population is the awesome potential and power that Veterans have both individually, and especially when operating in task-oriented, close-knit teams. I am so thankful that I found and was accepted as a member by Team Rubicon, because they seem to “Get It”.

This week, I have been very proud to be deployed with Rubicon’s Region VI in Louisiana in the direct aftermath of Hurricane Isaac, which left large portions of the New Orleans area with fallen trees, no power, and flooding from storm surge and high winds. I was last in New Orleans after the infamous Katrina Storm, and the damage from Isaac, while less extensive, was still a major stress to the community. This point was underscored by the fact that Isaac made landfall in Southern Louisiana 7 years to the date after Katrina paid her deadly visit in 2005.

Military members leave the service with not only years of experience in what many times are highly skilled, technically advanced careers; but also with abilities that too often go completely ignored by those that simply have nothing to compare these strengths to in their own lives.

I served in the US Air Force, primarily in a Unit responsible for the rapid set up and operation of fully functioning aerial ports in hostile or austere environments. Flexibility, adaptability, and independent thinking skills were highly valued qualities in a Mobile Aerial Porter (or “MAPPER” as we were known). An ability to quickly form positive working relationships with strangers, an openness to moment-to-moment operational changes, and an ability to trust entirely that those you are working with are capable, intelligent, and as dedicated to the mission as you are personally, are hallmarks of all successful rapid deployment military members. Team Rubicon acknowledges these strengths in our Veterans of all ages (team members on this tasking range from Vietnam to OIF/OEF Veterans). More importantly, Rubicon allows a venue for those strengths to be used in a way that benefits not solely the communities and people that we provide volunteer assistance to; but, truth be told, each Veteran that has been chosen to deploy as a Team Member.

Personally, it makes me feel very good to know that camaraderie very similar to that experienced decades ago, on deployments to East Africa and South West Asia is attainable again. It only adds to that satisfaction to know that the work being done is vital, timely, and crucial to the communities and citizens that we are able to assist.

The ghosts of Katrina are still very much a part of the Southern Louisiana landscape and psyche. Just as, occasionally, my experiences and service in Somalia seem very present in my life. But ghosts can be quieted, and even transformed into benign (yet still very powerful) forces if we focus on our individual and collective strengths, and allow THOSE to guide our actions, rather than holding on to losses and regrets.

Team Rubicon seems to understand, that at the heart of a good Soldier (or Marine, or Airman, or Sailor), is a deep love for their fellow man, and also a very strong respect for those in whom they see their own values and abilities reflected. I thank them for creating an opportunity to express both not solely in words, or mottos, or slogans…but in boots on the ground, rapidly mobile, forward deployed, action.

This piece can also be found on Team Rubicon's website.