Honor Their Service: Team Rubicon
Our country was built on people fighting for freedom and the freedom of generations to come. Every hour, every minute of every day, our service men and women are across the globe, putting their lives in danger for us. NewsCenter 1 would like to recognize those people and the people who advocate for them here at home.
In this week’s edition of “Honor Their Service,” we take a look at a veteran-led disaster response team that is providing assistance and support to people who have been devastated by flooding on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION, S.D. – As a result of the recent blizzards in South Dakota, flooding has made some roads impassable, crippling infrastructure, and cutting people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation off from the rest of the state.
Fortunately, organizations like Team Rubicon are coming together to help them in their time of need.
“We received a call a couple of weeks ago from a couple of the tribal members here asking for help due to the floods that they and from the storms that came through, so we set up a forward operating base off of the main heart lander response to take a look at what we could do to help folks here on Pine Ridge,” said John Byars, the Incident Commander for Team Rubicon. “We also brought in heavy equipment in order to start fixing some of the worse roads for people with medical problems, elderly people, people who can’t get out of their homes but have special needs that need to be taken care of. We’ve come in to do emergency repairs on the roads just to get them out.”
Team Rubicon was started by a group of Veterans in order to respond to the devastation caused by the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Now they’re made up of about 90-thousand veterans that are willing and able to help communities recover all over the world after being hit by natural disasters.
Brian Fathke is the South Dakota State Communications Coordinator for Team Rubicon. “We just wanna go out there and help others without any strings attached. We are going out there and volunteering our time so they don’t have to worry. They have enough going on in their lives so we can take some of that stress off their shoulders,” said Fathke.
We’re all one family. It doesn’t matter your skin color, what tribe you are, your heritage, what not. We’re all here to help one another like he said with no strings attached. Everyone deserves to have safe roadways and access to emergency services so that’s the priority right now is helping getting these roads fixed,” said Emily Sitting Bear, a Team Rubicon volunteer from North Dakota.
As a 501 c-3 organization, a lot of the money that they receive is from the family members of Team Rubicon. Even the mother of Jake Woods, who is the CEO of Team Rubicon, donates to Team Rubicon. Byars says Team Rubicon runs on a shoestring budget and we need to help as many people as we can so our donations come in great and small and we use most of the money that comes in directly to response.
Byars also says that being a member of Team Rubicon is a great resource for military veterans because it gives them an opportunity to gain a renewed sense of purpose, community, and identity. According to him, “Anybody with a skill set that we can use, we’ll use. And veterans bring a unique skillset to the table because of the training they learned when they were in.”