Jacob Wood, 29, and William McNulty, 35, are being honored for their work with Team Rubicon, the organization they co-founded in 2010. While watching coverage of the devastation in Haiti following an earthquake, Wood and McNulty realized that thanks to the skills they had gained in the Marines, they could help. In only days, they had gathered a small team of fellow veterans and they set off for Haiti. The two realized that deploying veterans in response to disasters as volunteers could not only improve traditional models of disaster response, but could also provide a meaningful experience for veterans struggling to reintegrate into civilian life. Wood and McNulty have worked since then to grow Team Rubicon, and continue to lead the organization.
Team Rubicon addresses the difficulties returning veterans face — as well as the "gap" of time between when disasters occur and when traditional aid organization can arrive — by pairing these seemingly unrelated issues. By harnessing the skills of veterans and putting them to use in rapid disaster response, Team Rubicon helps veterans continue their service and find a new sense of purpose and community and has created a new paradigm in disaster response that allows for more rapid response to complement traditional strategies. To date, Team Rubicon has deployed more than 800 veterans to Chile, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan, and other countries, as well as across the United States, and has more than 7,500 veteran volunteers. Its eventual goal is to involve at least 10,000 veterans in the dual missions of providing more effective disaster relief and helping veterans successfully transition back to civilian life.