The Norman Transcript

News Features

June 27, 2013

Veterans find relief helping Moore tornado victims, cleanup

NORMAN — For the city of Moore, it’s free tornado relief. For almost 400 U.S. military veterans, it’s an opportunity to put their training to use and continue helping people.

Made up mostly of military veterans, Team Rubicon volunteers arrived in Moore within 24 hours after the May 20 tornado, said Erica Chomsky, Team Rubicon public information officer. Shortly more than a month later, volunteers have performed more than 3,000 damage assessments and worked on nearly 400 homes.

Temporarily based in the Home Depot parking lot in Moore, Team Rubicon volunteers have come from all over the country to demolish 45 homes, remove heavy debris from more than 70 properties, mitigate damage on more than 50 homes and clear 300 acres of debris from Orr Family Farm.

Team Rubicon, headquartered in Los Angeles, was formed after a group of veterans traveled to Haiti to perform earthquake relief in 2010, Chomsky said. Since then, the nonprofit has grown and provided disaster relief all over the world.

When Cal Verdin retired after serving 20 years in the Army, he found difficulty and frustration relating to people who lack the level of discipline he acquired in the military.

He found relief working with fellow military veterans and serving his country once again 15 months ago when he joined Team Rubicon. He has now served 30 days as incident commander for the team’s “Operation: Starting Gun,” providing tornado relief in Moore.

Veterans have trouble adapting to life after the military because they lose the camaraderie and sense of initiative they adopt while they’re serving, Verdin said.

“All they know is that brotherhood they’ve established and that focused mission,” he said. “When they get out, they don’t have that. When they come back to their families and their friends back home, they don’t understand that.”

Many veterans feel the need to continue giving in some capacity, Verdin said. Veterans can fill that void by serving communities devastated by disaster.

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