For Veterans, Operation Allies Welcome Was a New Kind of Mission | Opinions

This is a message for all Hoosiers.

Four months ago we walked into an empty warehouse in southern Johnson County.

Later, thousands of Afghans flocked to Camp Atterbury after a terrifying and traumatic escape from their country. For years, many of them worked alongside the U.S. military and / or government officials, doing what they could to help stabilize their country.

Now they were in America, forced to leave it all behind because they were on America’s side.

As one volunteer from Team Rubicon put it: “They made a conscious choice to help American troops in the hopes of improving their country and their lives, and I think we owe them to continue and to defend our goal. “

For Team Rubicon, helping others on Operation Allies Welcome was a new kind of mission.

We are a veteran-led organization designed to serve at-risk and vulnerable populations affected by disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Consider cutting down trees blown down by tornadoes, covering wind-damaged roofs, and pushing mud out of flooded homes.

But this mission was different, it was new and there was no roadmap to refer to. Before it was over, the Rubicon team would assist in 10 separate sites across the United States with the ultimate task of providing support with managing donations. Working in a warehouse to collect, sort and deliver items donated to recently displaced people with the aim of helping, all in the midst of a pandemic.

We responded, we went, we did what was necessary to accomplish the mission thus providing the generous outpouring of gifts from the citizens of Indiana to our nation’s new guests.

Hoosiers demonstrated their hospitality by quickly providing meaningful new articles for this effort. These constant acts of generosity on the part of every person, organization or group have not only provided our allies with much-needed items, but also hope and promise of a much better start than their most recent end. .

In just a few weeks, our warehouse was stocked with new diapers, toothbrushes and shampoos, as well as an increasing number of socks, shirts and pants. Over 2 million items of donated goods were processed in the warehouse assisting Camp Atterbury. Almost all of it was provided by residents of the state of Indiana. Each item was a sacrifice of someone’s time and money, given to help another start a new life.

In addition to the material goods, came the new members of Team Rubicon, residents of Indiana who raised their hands and said, “Choose me, I want to help.” Nearly 250 individual Team Rubicon volunteers attended during those four months. Many of these people were new to the Rubicon team, the majority of them were from Indiana, and all were ready to give of their time, abilities and hearts. Everyone is ready to sweat in the September heat and tremble in the December cold to sort, pack and process the mountains of items donated through the generosity of their friends, neighbors and fellow Hoosiers.

Donations have come from all over the state. Faith communities, charities, civic groups, businesses, families, children, veterans and more have dropped off items in Indiana Armories across the state, our collection site in Johnson County. Park or in some other way by ensuring that the donations reach our warehouse. Many of you give often, coming back time and time again to demonstrate your Hoosier hospitality.

Our mission, to receive, sort and prepare for distribution all items donated in support of Operation Allies Welcome, would not have been as successful without the support of the leadership of the State of Indiana. , namely Governor Eric Holcomb, as well as the military commanders of Camp Atterbury, national and stage agencies and other non-governmental organizations. Everyone knew their role and performed their duties with the intention of serving. It has been amazing to work for and alongside everyone involved and to witness the care and sensitivity our guests have shown.

At Team Rubicon, we often say that our actions are characterized by the constant search to prevent or alleviate human suffering and restore human dignity – we help people in their worst day.

Hoosiers, you did it! It was you who uplifted and supported our Afghan guests beyond anything we could imagine. But you know this is only the first phase. We hope you will continue to support our Afghan allies as they settle in your communities and across our country by continuing to provide Hoosier hospitality.

We share all of this to thank you for stepping into the arena with us. For demonstrating that Hoosier hospitality is more than a slogan. To meet and overcome the need, and to give hope and show love to others.

May each recipient never forget your compassionate and generous donations because we will never forget everything you have shown us.

Tyler Smith, Liaison Officer, Team Rubicon, Camp Atterbury, served in the U.S. Army and retired from 10th Special Forces Group. He was deployed for five years in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, serving in Iraq and Jordan. Russ Hessler, task force leader, served in the United States Marine Corps from 1978 to 1983. Team Rubicon completed their assignment at Camp Atterbury on Jan. 7. Contact details for Tyler Smith are 256-469-1830 and Russ Hessler is 614-578-9365 or [email protected] and [email protected]

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