“Crossing the Rubicon” is to pass a point of no return, not knowing what lies on the other side, but crossing anyway. I have passed a place of no return, a point of no going back three times in my life. Once, in the dark of night when I stood on the painted yellow footprints at the entry to the Fort Jackson Army Basic Training site. Once when I gave birth to my son, and once, when I surrendered my active duty Army identification card after two combat tours and honorable service. It was this last point of no return that filled me with the most anxiety, the most fear. I believe leaving the military and becoming a veteran of our nation can be difficult for anyone, but when one is privileged enough to have been to war with their brothers and sisters in arms, learned the priceless value of camaraderie and the beauty of shared sacrifice, it can seem overwhelming to leave it all behind.
My generation’s wars have produced an American veteran that is evolved, with spaces in their heart and soul changed, mostly improved, but sometimes briefly darkened, reflective, and isolated. These wars in particular have been astonishingly fought by 1% of our nation, and it is this isolation that can be particularly trying for a veteran. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan War cannot go back to their brothers and sisters on the battlefield. If they wish to move forward in their lives they must decide to take what they have learned and cross over to the other side; to a place of no return; they must cross the Rubicon.
As our nation’s pace of war slows, more and more warriors will cross this line, and thankfully it seems as if there is somebody, or some force waiting to muster our ranks on the other side. Not coincidentally, there are now many veteran groups forming, each filling a different need. These organizations are led by dedicated Vets who through their visceral need to continue to serve their communities have reached out to their fellow veteran and led them into a community with a similar American experience…this generation of American veterans has decided not to stand for isolation; they have organized. One veteran led organization that welcomes many motivated veterans including myself, is Team Rubicon.
Team Rubicon is a team of military veterans and medical professionals irrevocably committed to changing and improving our nation’s veteran reintegration philosophy. Team Rubicon is primarily a natural disaster response team; utilizing a veterans valuable skill set and matching it with a communities specific needs. They are a team of men and women who are structured in a military style chain of command and execution style. Team Rubicon is efficient, rapidly deployable, skilled, and motivated to serve.
A group like Team Rubicon is the future model for disaster response in our nation, and many of our country’s brightest leaders understand this. Recently due to their success in responding to the victims of Storm Sandy, Team Rubicon was highlighted and honored at the Bill Clinton Global Initiative, and just a few weeks ago they also caught the eye and attention of perhaps the most prominent and well known warrior of our time; a soldier who like his brothers and sisters has also “Crossed the Rubicon”. Gen David Petraeus recently visited Team Rubicon at their headquarters in California, spending a substantial amount of time speaking with them and learning about their organization. He even led them on one of his signature fast and long runs. Yes this motivated, dedicated, situated 1%er is very interested in what his Battle Buddies are up to.
These new veteran led organizations are integral for our post-war society, and I am honored to be part of one of the best of them. It is important that we not forget the errors of the past, there was a time not very long ago, when combat veterans returned from war and were largely left behind or simply ignored; they did not know where to turn, many remain isolated today. We have learned from our fellow warriors, and will not allow that same isolation to occur this time; the combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will lead each other over the Rubicon.