Op RE:ACT: “I’m honoured to be a veteran, I’m honoured to be part of that community” – Duke of Sussex

The Duke of Sussex joined Team Rubicon UK CEO Richard Sharp on the Declassified podcast as they discussed service, values and what it means to volunteer as a veteran.

It may go without saying but The Duke of Sussex is no ordinary Greyshirt. No, it’s not because of the family name (ok, maybe it is that too) but the fact that Harry was on the scene when Team Rubicon UK was unofficially formed in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015.

Within 36 hours of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake striking near the capital, Kathmandu, a response team from Team Rubicon USA was en-route. Once there, they joined up with British Armed Forces veterans, including Gurkhas, and quickly got to work helping to rebuild communities. The Duke of Sussex was among the first cohort of British veterans to don the Greyshirt and bring hope to those stricken by disaster.

It was when recalling that moment on the recent Declassified podcast that Harry spoke of the enduring ethos, values and duty to service that unite veterans.

“You represent something, you represent a community, you represent a certain set of values, and I believe that those values will be with you for the rest of your life and you want to do everything you can to give back,” says Harry.

Five years later, those values and sense of giving back are now being felt at home, as throughout the UK thousands of veterans are among the armies of volunteers stepping forward to help the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spirit and duty in evidence at the start of Team Rubicon UK and that has been fundamental since has once more been called on, this time on a much greater scale. With the launch of Op RE:ACT, Team Rubicon UK is asking veterans to serve once more and support the nation’s frontline services and vulnerable communities, knowing the distinct qualities and hard-won, valuable skills that they bring.

To date, over 4,000 have answered, with more coming forward each day. For anyone who’s served, it’s no surprise. Not least to Harry.

“You just have that hole filled again. That gaping hole everyone feels once you hang up your uniform,” says Harry. “At the end of the day you’re all trying to do the same thing. Which is use your skillset and use your experience, use your training to fix problems and make people’s lives better and to work together as a team.”

Teamwork is behind everything that Team Rubicon UK does – after all, it’s in our name. No one joins to serve themselves but to serve others, yet often they can be surprised by how much they get back from giving.

“Everything Team Rubicon does has a massive impact on the volunteer as well as the person we’re there to serve,” says Rich. “I’ve all kinds of stories about them coming back from operations saying this is the most important thing they’ve ever done because they’re doing it freely, out of choice.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Harry and one that he knows others feel too and hopes will continue.

“I’m honoured to be a veteran, I’m honoured to be a part of that community,” says Harry. “The veteran community will always volunteer. I really hope this continues, once you sign up there are still going to be opportunities once this is over. Let’s keep that going.”

If you’re a veteran and want to volunteer JOIN OP RE:ACT now.

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Listen to the full Declassified podcast now.

About Declassified: Declassified the podcast is a series of conversations with members of the military community that provide support and guidance across society to those suffering from mental illness and injury.

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