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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Home for TR

Team Rubicon now has its own home at teamrubiconusa.org. This site will revert back to its original use as Jake's Life blog.

Please visit teamrubiconusa.org for everything Haiti and Team Rubicon related, including the new documentary trailer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Commenting Temporarily Disabled

We've temporarily disabled commenting on the Team Rubicon blog while we move to a new content management platform on a new host. We hope to have this process completed today. Thank you for your patience.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rubicon Reunion

Dr. Eduardo Dolhun reunites with Jeff Lang and Craig Parello while travelling to Milwaukee, WI on business.

Bathelmy and Sterlande

100213 Bathelmy and Sterlande


The name of the young man from Manresa is Bathelmy, or Bartholemew, and I commend him to you for your prayers and good thoughts. We found him at last, at the refugee camp this morning. His family name is Silencieux, he is eighteen years old, and he is left-handed. He used to be a construction worker. On January 12th, he was at work when the earthquake struck Haiti. The building he was in collapsed, partially burying him under cinderblocks and trapping his right hand under the corner of a heavy table. He was pulled from the rubble with his hand crushed, and learned that his mother was dead. The next few days were like a bad dream for him. His hand was bandaged by a Haitian doctor the next day, but the doctor had no medicines, no anesthetics, and no way to properly treat the injury. Bathelmy’s sister Sterlande took care of him, but they had very little water and less food. Bathelmy stayed at a place a short distance from the Manresa camp, but he came to the camp each day because Sterlande told him that the Catholic priests would send doctors to the camp as soon as anyone came to help. When our team arrived, he was the first patient we saw. Bathelmy remembered me, and Brother Jim, and Jake, and he remembered our efforts taking care of him and getting him to a hospital. The pain and swelling in his crushed hand eased soon after we treated him, but the surgeons were unable to operate on him for another two days because of the number of patients and the shortage of doctors. When they were finally able to operate on him, they amputated his hand. He survived the operation and the wound is healing appropriately. He no longer has pain in his arm and he will see a doctor again in five days. He was very, very grateful for everything Rubicon was able to do for him. “That [the first day Rubicon came to Manresa] was the first day I felt like I was alive again. I wish you would be here every day.”


100212 Searching

The earthquake happened thirty days ago today.

Haiti's president declared that today is the first of three days'
mourning and remembrance. The US Embassy, most UN offices, and every
official building (of those that are still standing) was closed today.
And as far as I could tell, the vast majority of Haitian citizens did
NOT stay home. They dressed in the best clothing they could assemble,
and walked to church. And there they stayed for the better part of
the day, preaching, listening, mourning, singing, and remembering.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reflections from Brother Jim

After the last of Team Rubicon left the country my focus has changed from medical to educational. There are now over 40 camps of refugees in Port au Prince with population estimates ranging from 240,000 to 600,000. Each of these camps are filled with children who have been away from school for about a month and wonder aimlessly with little to keep them occupied. Last week some of us were talking about the possibility of setting up refugee schools for these kids, and two days later the Jesuit Province was behind the idea. Foi et Joie, the school system I work for, will be setting up camp schools in three of the largest areas of displaced people in the city. Our estimates are that we will be educating around 7,000 students, something that even raised the eyebrows of our friends over at UNICEF.

As you can imagine, the planning going into this is enormous, and includes recruiting teachers, requesting funding, meeting with other NGO’s, securing tents, classroom materials, and everything else that any school would have. At times it seems overwhelming, but I do have confidence in our team and the products of Fe y Alegria around the world. One walk through the camps lets me see firsthand the tremendous need in the educational area, and rekindles the hope that some of these emergency schools might grow into something permanent.

Following the Water Trail

100211 Following the water trail

Today was simply delightful! I got to give away presents, hung out
with Brother Jim, got a hug and a kiss from Gary Cagle's nine-year-old
daughter Rachel (via a small pillow pre-loaded with 1000@ hugs and
kisses), and generally did a bunch of miscellaneous and hopefully
useful stuff. The day's focus was on proceeding forward with the
refugee schools, but mostly what Jim and I did was hang out and drive
around, which was just fine with me. He's been doing sustained
disaster relief ops for 30 days, so getting stuck in traffic for most
of the day might have been a welcome change of pace. (Of course, he
was stuck in traffic with ME, so by tomorrow he will probably be
begging to get back to gangrenous wounds and mortuary transport.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Team Rubicon member Mark Hayward returns to Haiti

Mark Hayward, a former Army Special Forces medic, returned to Haiti today to provide follow-on medical care to the patients he cared for over two weeks ago. While this is neither an official Team Rubicon mission, nor funded by Team Rubicon, Hayward returned to Port-au-Prince through his own fund-raising effort. "Mark's personal mission wasn't complete without ensuring his patients received follow-on wound care to prevent gangrene and sepsis. I've seen doctors come to Mark for medical advice. When Team Rubicon deploys to the next disaster, this is the guy you immediately call upon, if he hasn't already beat you to the punch by volunteering first." says Team Rubicon co-founder William McNulty. His most recent update is below:

0210 Rue de miracles

Written from the novitiate house at 3AM on Thursday morning.

I set out to reach here, 24 hours ago. It is miraculous that I have arrived, and I do not use the term lightly. It is also a testament to the inspired teamwork of SO many people! The experience also makes me hopeful, and humbles me. Nothing "I" am doing is being done by me alone -- and that gives me great comfort.

For starters, just getting me to the airport needs to be credited to my lovely bride. When the snow started falling, and she saw that I was torn between staying with her, and going forward, she said, "Get out of here; go do what you need to do." And, thereafter, buoyed up by Zak (working alternate flights), Graeme (ditto), Cammie (suggesting I try the Richmond airport), Cheryl (covering my shift), Jeremy (authorizing the swap), Cammie giving me en-route flight updates as I slushed down 95 towards Richmond), my dad (floating me the cash I needed to fund the whole massive mutating operation), and, oh yeah, Cammie (backing me up and staying positive as I traveled), I made it to Richmond.

Retracing my steps

It's 3AM on Thursday and I am back at the Jesuit novitiate in Port-au-Prince. I arrived here after a short drive from Petion-Ville, down Avenue John Brown, and across Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines. The only living things I saw afoot in the city were wild dogs, and there are plenty of them, looking sleek and well-fed. I also saw a fire burning in a dumpster, three enormous arc lights illuminating rows of dump trucks and earthmovers parked at three intersections, and occasional PNH vehicles. Other than that, nothing is moving. It's like being in a ghost town. Frankly, unsettling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TR working in DC

The show must go on

Despite blizzard conditions in Washington DC, Joylon Hoff of Third Story Films interviews Jake Wood, Clay Hunt, Dr David Griswell and William McNulty for an upcoming documentary. A film trailer will be released next week.

Clay and Jake Lobbying Congress for Veterans Rights

Small Earthquake Hits Near Chicago

A small earthquake in northern Illinois set off car alarms, knocked books off the shelves and jolted scores of people awake at 4 a.m. Wednesday, but otherwise caused no serious damage, officials said.

Wheels up for 2 more TR members

Gunny and Dee, the last two members of TR2 (minus Gary Cagle) departed Haiti Monday, and are back home safe and sound in New York. The folks in the attached picture (L to R) are: Edmund Lo (Jesuit Novice, and first "local recruit" to TR), Mac McCormick (Gunnery Sgt, USMC (R)), Dee Spina (RN), and JJ Aerulus (Haitian translator and all around good guy).

The picture was shot as they were heading out to the airport in a tap-tap. The only original members of Team Rubicon still in country are Brother Jim and Gary. Jim is doing his typical SJ stuff (currently setting up schools in the refugee camps), and Gary is now working for the WHO (He has been hired to "fix" the problems with their medical logistics warehouse and system here in Haiti). The mission continues....

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Milwaukee Bar Offers "Rubicon Shots"

Team Rubicon Co-Founder Jeff Lang walked into a random local bar this past week and found that the bar owner was supporting Team Rubicon in his own way, with "Team Rubicon Shots" out of a bottle of Jim Beam.

God Bless Milwaukee.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Hayward on SoMdNews.com

Acting on the urge to help victims in Haiti
Hayward offers treatment after quake

The devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 12, was more than a news story for Mark Hayward. He saw the images on TV and immediately recognized places he had been, streets he has walked and thought of people he knew.

Hayward, an emergency medicine physician assistant at St. Mary's Hospital, worked in Haiti as a medical officer for a team of United States law enforcement personnel for three months in 2009.

"It was very personal," he said by phone this week from his home in King George, Va.

WKOW TV Interview with Jake Wood


Thursday, February 04, 2010

TR Members Head to Congress

In keeping with Team Rubicon's military heritage, TR members Clay Hunt and Jake Wood are heading to Washington DC this weekend for seven days of meetings with congressmen and senators.  While this is not a Team Rubicon sanctioned mission, be rest assured that Jake and Clay will represent what today's veterans are capable of achieving off the battlefield, and will make every inroad possible to ensure that Team Rubicon's model for disaster relief reaches the ears of those with the ability to take it to the next level.

Here's a link to the veteran's representing the IAVA in Washington LINK


Ladies and Gentlemem! It's time for the Team Rubicon army of supporters to unite once more!

Remember our little 'incident' with American Airlines? Where they initially charged me for extra bags full of medicine on my flight to Haiti? Well, because of your outcry they reversed those charges and wrote me (aka US!) a personal letter of apology.

One of a Kind Auction Proceeds to TR

Dear Friends,
I have exciting news from IDEX! Helen has decided to offer a one of a kind doll for auction. We wanted to give you the opportunity to have her for your very own. By bidding you'll be helping the relief efforts in Haiti as all proceeds from the winning bid will go to Team Rubicon. Read on to learn more. To take a peak at Baby Aisha click here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kishandcompany , or just visit the Photo Section and look for her name.

Jake Wood Interview

Hugh Hewitt talks with Team Rubicon co-creator Jake Wood about their recent mission to Haiti, and what their plans are for the future.

Click here to listen