What happens to a soldier after combat? In uniform they are applauded and thanked as they walk through airports. But when they take off their uniforms for the last time, they often struggle to reintegrate and are in danger of becoming a devastating statistic: since 2001, more service members have died by suicide than have been killed overseas. After two bloody tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jake watched in horror as his best friend and fellow Marine Clay Hunt plunged into depression upon returning, went off his medication, and committed suicide.


Listen to our full conversation with Jake below.


Jake wracked his brain for a better way to support our veterans in their greatest hour of need. He remembered how only one activity had given Clay a measure of hope: helping communities after disasters, where his training rendered him unusually effective in high-stakes situations. What if there was a way to help stricken communities while providing a new mission to struggling veterans?




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  This happened. Thank you to @therock and @underarmour for making it happen! cc: @kevinplank96   A post shared by Jake Wood (@jakewoodtr) on

In this inspiring memoir, Jake recounts the founding of Team Rubicon, a disaster relief organization that has recruited over 120,000 volunteers with 70% of them being veterans. They have raced against the clock to save stricken communities after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Harvey, and COVID-19 and continue to battle any other catastrophe thrown their way. Veteran volunteers utilize their military training to untangle complex problems quickly and keep calm under pressure. Many men and women need disaster response work as much as the work needs them. While civilian life asks vets to compartmentalize their traumatic memories and adjust to living outside high-stakes situations, Team Rubicon plunges them into a new, urgent mission. Having a continued purpose—a mission that matters—can be the key to a veteran’s successful transition from war to peace. ONCE A WARRIOR provides a harrowing look at what it means to be a veteran in the 21st Century and the true cost of military service as the Forever War drags on – and, most important, the path to healing. The book was released November 10th, and is available anywhere you buy a book. Get it on Amazon now.

Team Rubicon Co-Founder and Bettendorf Native Jake Wood served with the United States Marine Corps as a Sergeant. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Scout Sniper. When he came home, he went to work as one of the top advocates for veterans.

Wood has met with presidents and former presidents to discuss veterans' issues, as well as Team Rubicon's disaster response.

Since 2010, Team Rubicon has recruited over 135,000 volunteers with 70% of them being veterans. They have launched over 700 operations globally in response to disasters and humanitarian crises. The value of their volunteer service totals over $35 million.

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