Many of you that follow me and Team Rubicon on Facebook know some of this sad sad news already.
As an advisor to Team Rubicon, Jake Wood alerted us that combat vet, Marine Scout Sniper and humanitarian, Clay Warren Hunt had taken his own life.
Many of us knew about the demons of depression that Clay faced down every day. From Stephanie Rudat, another key advisor to TR:
Clay Hunt joined the United State Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq where he lost close comrades. Those experiences, and the rapidity with which they happened, changed him forever.
- February 18, 2007: Clay was monitoring a radio when he overheard the news that his bunkmate had been killed.
- March 11, 2007: Clay’s platoon was ambushed and pinned down by Rocket Propelled Grenade rounds. During this attack, Clay lost another close friend.
- Three days later: A sniper spotted Clay and took out his left wrist. He was sent back to California and suffered post-tramatic stress disorder.
Last year, when Team Rubicon deployed on it's first mission to Haiti, Clay jumped at the chance to join his friend, Jake Wood. Here's a photo from Clay's first day in country from my post (before TR had the new blog running) titled appropriately "Welcome to Hell":
Team Rubicon new addition, former Marine Scout Sniper and Purple Heart recipient, Clay Hunt. Two days ago Hunt awoke at 3 AM, checked Rubicon's blog, and three hours later hopped a plane to Santo Domingo and made his way into Haiti. Yesterday Hunt arrived at the General Hospital via taxi. "All I had was the gps pos for the mission and that they might be working at some hospital. Jake was the best man at my wedding. He's the brother I never had. Nothing could keep me from joining Team Rubicon. So I hired a taxi." says Hunt.
So Clay found a new purpose and he learned one of the greatest secrets of life - by helping others, you help yourself. According to Clay:
“Since separating from the Marines in May of 2009, I have been having quite a hard time re-entering civilian society. I have sorely missed the friendships and sense of purpose that I had while I served. I honestly didn’t think I would ever find that anywhere else- and then Team Rubicon was born. While serving with TR in Haiti and Chile, I was able to use the skills I had learned in the Corps and I found myself alongside a band of brothers once again, who were all working towards a common goal- to help people who were in dire need of our assistance. That experience has given me a renewed sense of purpose, but more importantly, hope- a hope that I might find a place in the world where I am needed again, and that I can use the skills and the knowledge I gained by serving in the Corps to help make the world a better, brighter place for the people we bring assistance to. Team Rubicon has changed my life, and the future course of it for the better, without a doubt.”
And Clay brought Team Rubicon onto a new path. As founders Jake Wood and William McNulty were developing the mission for TR, they knew that were many vets like Clay that wanted to do more with their lives after serving their country...these dangerous men wanted to serve the helpless around the world. TR had been working on a Veteran Transition program based on the success and ideas from Clay's own experiences.
When Soldiers' Angels was getting the Heroes & Horses program off of the ground, I asked Jake for quality combat vets and he recommended that Clay be one of our first men to go through the program. Our intention was to have Clay help us with future groups of vets and help SA shape the program. Everyone from the ranchers in SW Montana to Patti Patton Bader were excited to have Clay in the program. And my last conversation with Clay a few weeks ago was about his excitement at this opportunity.
Sorrowfully, that will never happen. It is truly heart breaking to write that Clay lost his fight with those demons.
...Clay’s experiences with TR moved our organization in a new direction; a direction that focused on the value we brought to our nation’s veterans. This is a direction that cannot, and will not, be lost on us now. It is more important than ever to honor his legacy by ensuring that no veteran ever feels the pain of transition as Clay did...
Clay's legacy is a giant one. And one that we at Team Rubicon will stand by day after day, year after year. This is how I will remember him - as an American Bad Ass with a Heart of Gold:
Godspeed, Clay. Thank you for serving all of us.
[Memorial Service, Donations in Memoriam, and other information is after the jump.]
Flowers and Memorial donations:
The family has asked that memorial donations be made to the two organizations that meant the most to Clay, Ride to Recovery, which I personally saw give him much needed challenges and comraderie, and Team Rubicon, which Clay was instrumental in launching.
Ride 2 Recovery helps wounded veterans and raises awareness about wounded warriors through high profile bike rides staged across the country.
In a cruel fit of irony, TR launched on the day of Clay’s death a new initiative called “Transition” aimed at helping veterans like Clay gain meaningful job skills through continued service. The tragedy of his death only serves to highlight the immense need for this new initiative.
You can donate to Ride to Recovery here:
You can donate to Team Rubicon here:
Flowers can be sent to:
United Methodist Church
12955 Memorial Dr
Houston TX, 77079
The Memorial Service is Monday, April 4th, at 11am at the above church address.