Over the weekend, Hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas, likely impacting the lives of more than 450,000 people, according to the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And they need your help.
Too often, I encounter veterans who believe their best days are behind them. My first week working for Team Rubicon turned that notion on its head. It is a rare thing to be surrounded every day by people you admire. That is the position I found myself in late in 2013, shortly after accepting the job as chief operations officer for Team Rubicon, an organization that retrains military vets to deploy into disaster zones. This was a tiny team with big plans. When they said they intended to change the world, they — we — meant it.
As almost anyone who has deployed to a disaster as part of an emergency response team can attest, there are striking similarities between combat operations and emergency response. There are potentially life and death decisions to be made and often considerable damage that needs immediate attention. There is mass confusion and need for continued presence of mind. There are multiple organizations traversing and working in the same area that need to be deconflicted. There is usually a lack of consolidated command, control and communication.
The emergency management field can provide extensive career opportunities for transitioning veterans in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. Some titles that may interest veterans seeking a new career include continuity of operations specialist, preparedness specialist, emergency management specialist, training and exercise manager, and mitigation planner, to name just a few. Because contemporary emergency management comes from the lineage of civil defense, military experience can act as a core element for excelling in this field. However, focusing on being a first responder may not be the best option. The more expansive your search for positions in other aspects of emergency management, the more likely you will have success.