Friday, November 11, was Veterans Day and on that day we held a special Architects of Change Live conversation with my brother Bobby Shriver and Jake Wood, the CEO of Team Rubicon.
Jake co-founded Team Rubicon in 2010 following the massive earthquake in Haiti. A veteran himself, Jake established the organization to give military veterans a sense of purpose, community and self-worth through volunteer service. Team Rubicon allows vets to utilize their unique skills for disaster response, humanitarian crisis intervention, and community service.
Jake’s work is valuable and inspiring, and for that reason we named him the Architect of Change of the Week in this week’s Sunday Paper.
We tell veterans “thank you for your service,” but what else should we say?
Find a veteran and ask him or her their story. People are afraid to ask veterans about their stories for two reasons. One, they fear that veterans don’t want to share that story. That’s a wrong line of thinking. Give them the opportunity to tell you no. I think you’ll be surprised that they will be flattered that you asked. The other reason is because people are afraid the story will make them uncomfortable. It should make you uncomfortable. I spent two years of my life overseas — I served during one of the bloodiest times of war in Iraq and as a scout sniper in Afghanistan. Those stories might make you uncomfortable, but that’s the reality of what we send our men and women to do.
Team Rubicon does work in cities throughout the United States and globally as well. What is your goal?
We have 3 million veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and these are incredible people with incredible skills, and the experience of implementing those skills in the most austere and extreme circumstances imaginable. They come home and their skills and experiences are still there, and as a society we aren’t asking them to do anything with it. We’re putting a framework in place that allows them to tap back into those skills and experiences to help their communities. In a time of crisis, we should be looking to the men and women who served us before in times of crisis to lead us through it.
What’s your request or hope for our new administration?
I hope he sticks to his word and tries to be a unifier. I’d love to see him bring a lot of post-9/11 veterans into his administration. I think one thing veterans are really good at is implementing change and tackling impossible challenges, and I think that’s what he has in front of him.
Watch my full Veterans Day conversation with Jake Wood and Bobby Shriver here.