Dear American Legion Family and friends,
Team Rubicon offered the labor and expertise. Team American Legion offered shelter and infrastructure. Together, this community of veterans have had a major impact on relief operations for Floridians reeling from the devastating blows inflicted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
Charlie Seiler is a Vietnam veteran and member of American Legion Post 103 in Punta Gorda, Fla. His house was badly damaged by Ian and covered with debris. Health issues prevented Seiler, 81, from performing the exhaustive labor required to make his home safe.
A visit from the governor of Florida and Team Rubicon changed his fortunes. “I asked what I could do to help,” Seiler said. “They said ‘stay out of the way.’ There was 30 to 40 feet of debris piled up. Rubicon cleared it and took care of the safety issues. The governor made a call and by dark I had my electricity back. I don’t get emotional but I did that day.”
Team Rubicon describes itself on its website as a veteran-led humanitarian organization that serves global communities before, during and after disasters and crises. During the first few weeks following Hurricane Ian, more than 325 Rubicon volunteers descended upon the impacted communities in Florida. On any given night, Post 103 shelters dozens of Rubicon “greyshirts.”
“The post took a vote that they can stay as long as they need to,” Post 103 Commander John Dollinger told national headquarters. “Yes, we had to give up our kitchen and dining room, but we made a decision that they can stay. No questions asked and the vote was unanimous.”
Because of its proximity to Fort Myers, Punta Gorda and other devastated areas, Post 103 is perfectly suited as a Forward Operating Base for Team Rubicon.
“These hardened walls make it easier to secure our items,” Alandra Swords, a Rubicon volunteer from Edgewater, Wash., said. “Home is where you are and having individuals here who served and to form a camaraderie with when you come home at night is amazing. This FOB is our receiving and distribution center.”
More than seven years ago, our National Executive Committee saw many similar values shared by groups like Team Rubicon and The American Legion. The NEC unanimously passed Resolution No. 20: Encourage Collaboration with Selected Post-9/11 Generation Veterans Groups.
It resolved that The American Legion “seek active coordination wherever feasible” with Team Rubicon and other selected groups. It also called for departments and posts “to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships” with these organizations.
From what I can see, Post 103, the Department of Florida and Team Rubicon epitomize the wisdom of that resolution. Hurricanes are a powerful force. But so are greyshirts and blue caps.
Veterans Strengthening America,
Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola