When it comes to our nation’s veterans, they need our support. They’ve given life and limb in defense of our great nation. Military Mobility is one veterans organization worthy of our support. This non-profit, 501(c) organization specializes in off-road expeditions and resiliency training for veterans in need. The organization’s mission is to put veterans in a team environment that fosters comradery, trust, and a realization that any challenge—no matter how great—can be overcome. To this end, Military Mobility uses 4WD vehicles and the rugged geographic landscape that we all know and love as a medium. To learn more about this wonderful organization, CEO and founder, Brian Ribera, was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Thanks, Brian, for talking with us. When was Military Mobility founded?
Brian Ribera: Military Mobility was founded in 2017. At that time, I just crossed over 20 years in Navy SEAL Teams as a CWO3, had lost over 100 teammates in battle, including some to suicide, and was dealing with injury and was struggling to find “mobility” in my life again. Military Mobility is the direct result of the board members’ extensive personal experience and observations over a combined 70 years of active duty military service in the Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Additionally, we have representation from every service branch and all manner of communities, including special operations, aviation, infantry, fleet, reserve, and national guard. We saw a need to create an inspirational home for higher learning amongst the veteran community and believe in providing opportunity and instruction where high level individuals can rejoin a team, jump start passion, fuel teamwork, navigate operations, gain traction in leadership, align strategic goals, and recover potential.
What about Military Mobility makes it different from other veteran support groups?
Brian Ribera: Military Mobility has bridged the gap with experiential learning and ushered in a new era of resiliency training. We saw two re-occurring themes on each end of the spectrum in the non-profit world that needed to be addressed. First, great content delivered poorly; heavy classroom or lecture based material for veterans quickly saturates and often overwhelms them without truly addressing their issues, only masking them with the new behaviors and practices of civilian life. Second, fun activities with no meat behind on the bone; meaning no curriculum or training. Name your activity, it’s great that veterans were able to take their mind off of their troubles for a while, but when they get home they’re left with the same issues they were dealing with before.
Military Mobility has created a curriculum that empowers the veteran for positive transformational growth, while allowing veterans to rejoin a genuine, close-knit trusted team environment. This helps them find their new post-military purpose and how to translate their skill sets for the civilian workforce.
What is your current enrollment?
Brian Ribera: We have a pretty good-sized waiting list at the moment. Our courses and training focus on quality versus quantity, as each event is four to five days in length. Course sizes range from six to 15 participants. It is our goal to create a very genuine and personalized environment, and that is best done in small, intimate groups.
Cool! What kind of activities do you support?
Brian Ribera: “Mobility” in the military is any platform that gets you from point A to point B. This includes vehicles, dirt bikes, side-by-sides, boats, horses, you name it! This allows us a medium to overlay our curriculum onto. Which each obstacle on the trail, courses attendees are literally doing workout reps in stress inoculation and resiliency training; although they don’t know it because they are having so much fun!
But our organization doesn’t do “trail runs.” Our courses and curriculum are more in-line with the mission planning and execution of a military patrol rather than just following the guy in front of you. The clients and veterans are held accountable every step of the way on disciplines which include navigation, leadership, medical, and supply. I spell this out because most people don’t understand how vastly different we are from most other veteran organizations or trail clubs.
We mainly run vehicle courses because we have a decent amount of Jeeps and such in our inventory as veterans don’t need to provide or pay anything to attend. For example, we just finished up an incredible snowmobiling course.
Does Military Mobility accept military retirees?
Brian Ribera: Our mission is to provide for veterans in need. We take active duty, separated, and retired veterans, regardless of their disability rating. Veterans are approved based on need by the board of directors. How we provide for the veterans is by running courses for civilians and corporate teams. We need to get better at advertising this because the experience is second to none! Attendees in addition to knowing they are saving a life that has pledged to save theirs also benefit from tax deductions too which is never a bad thing!
What do you use for comms on your outings?
Brian Ribera: We use GMRS and FRS UHF communications for inner-team communications and a satellite device for emergency communication when out of cell coverage.
We’ve noticed that your mobile base station is a truck camper? Which make and model is it?
Brian Ribera: We have a 2015 Host Mammoth and it is the backbone of our operation. We love it! We initially wanted a huge fifth wheel, and rented a triple-axle toy hauler for a month to test it out, but proved to be too cumbersome as it couldn’t make many turns on normal backcountry roads and wouldn’t fit at many off-grid or park campsites. The truck camper allows us maximum flexibility to meet our needs. We can have the camper mounted and tow an enclosed trailer with tons of gear with bikes, side-by-sides or a vehicle, which is bigger than any fifth wheel garage and can make sharp turns. We can also drop the truck camper and pull a gooseneck when needed or just use the pickup as a standalone. For anyone interested we have a popular video on YouTube walking through the interior and exterior of the unit.
Why did you chose a Host Mammoth as Your Mobile HQ?
Brian Ribera: Compared to a travel trailer, it was big, yet small. Everyone who goes in it can’t believe they are in the back of a pickup. What initially attracted us was the large fresh, black, and grey holding tank capacities and the huge basement storage area underneath. The full-size bathroom layout is unbeatable for comfort and long duration stays. I’ve spent 23 years in Navy SEAL Teams and I am done having crappy showers or having no showers at all! Lastly we needed a robust kitchen, which the Host Mammoth definitely has. We recently took it out on the Onion Creek Trail in Moab and shot a video for YouTube.
We heard you recently upgraded the Mammoth’s electrical system. Can you tell us more about it?
Brian Ribera: We just got our truck camper back from PenPac RV in Redmond, Oregon, and boy was it worth it. Dan is the guy who built the first triple-slide campers for Host and knows these rigs inside and out. The meat of the package consists of three Chins 300 amp hour lithium ion batteries, a 3,000 watt Go Power inverter, and six 180 watt solar panels. It’s all controlled off the Victron app which provides an amazing amount of detail and is custom configurable, so you can monitor all kinds of things. They also installed a DC to DC charger so the batteries charge when I’m driving, but won’t pull any current from the truck when static. What’s more, I can run our onboard Cummins Onan generator to charge the batteries if needed, which it just does automatically, which is a nice touch. We’ve been running the air conditioner for a few hours here and there with no issues. I even ran a corded Sawzaw to cut some steel the other day. It feels funny to just plug into the camper without running anything! It’s truly a remarkable system and is a game changer for us in terms of thriving off-grid for long periods of time.
Can you tell us more about your truck?
Brian Ribera: It’s a 2020 F450 King Ranch. We went with Ford, and the F450 specifically, because of the unique feature of the wide track front axle which no other brands have. It lets you turn on a dime, which is crucial for the trails we’re on. It also has the biggest interior space available with an 8 foot bed (mega cab only available with a 6 foot bed). We looked at lower trims models then when you add all the features you’d want for long duration travel (LED lights, lane departure, heated seats, etc.) it made sense to go with a higher trim package. We got a very good deal and love this rig!
Have you made any modifications to your truck to carry your truck camper?
Brian Ribera: First we installed the Torklift frame tie-downs and a Dee Zee bed mat, which I would highly recommend, both are very customized products built for each truck. Then we added a dual ARB air compressor with a small tank to run the Air Lift 7500 XL lift bags, which we ran with independent lines to compensate for traveling in high winds. We use both the phone app and the 2nd Gen 74000 wireless controller for this. The ARB also lets us run some air tools and inflate tires when needed. Lastly we have Torklift Lower Stableloads and the Torklift 36-inch Canon hitch extension for towing the enclosed trailer. Future plans are to add a cell booster and satellite antenna as the camper overhang makes the satellite reception from the F450 splotchy.
What kind of mileage are you getting with your setup?
Brian Ribera: We try not to look at that! But seriously the 10-speed transmission on the F450 does an incredible job hauling the weight and we usually cruise at 65 mph which conserves fuel and provides a buffer for safety. I’ve noticed if we creep over 70 mph it starts to dwindle.
What tires do you have on your F450 and what inflation values do you typically run when driving off-road?
Brian Ribera: We’re not a fan of the Continental HD3 tires that came with the truck and in fact tried to have Ford swap them out within 1,700 miles of owning the truck, We safely towed the fifth wheel on an unimproved road for a few miles and had massive chunks of rubber falling off! The tires work well for dry pavement conditions, but are horrible in snow or ice. Can’t wait to switch to another tire more suited for what we do. The factory recommends 80 front, 75 rear—we are usually around 5-10 psi below, then much lower if in sand or off-roading. Yes, we take this beast off-road!
Are there any plans to purchase a more aggressive, off-road truck and truck camper setup like a Four Wheel Camper?
Brian Ribera: Yes, we absolutely love our current setup, but as we have expanded to running multiple events at once having another, more lightweight rig able to handle slightly more aggressive terrain would be useful. Any potential sponsors or donors out there please take note!
Do you have any favorite places or trails you like to explore? What has been the most difficult and challenging?
Brian Ribera: Our favorite area has been Moab, Utah. There’s just so much trail access and places to explore. It’s perfect for long periods off-grid. Challenging terrain is not hard to find in a truck camper this big and it’s been a learning curve for sure, however, we manage fairly well now and have increased our reach and capability.
What are your favorite states where you like to explore?
Brian Ribera: We’re having fun in the western states right now, but we’re interested in taking our truck camper everywhere we can!
Are there any areas or trails that you think are overlooked?
Brian Ribera: I believe many of the northern states are overlooked. We all know the big names around the country, but there’s lots of secret spots up north.
This has been great talking to you. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your organization?
Brian Ribera: Oh, thank you so much, Mike, it’s been a pleasure. We love the truck camper and off-road communities because there are so many parallels that relate to military life; the preparedness, mission planning, technical skills needed, and dealing with environmental factors. We all know how to improvise, adapt, and overcome. There is a common love of helping others in need. If I had one simple ask it would be for any readers to please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. You’d be surprised how this helps us reach veterans in need and gain sponsorship and support. And please reach out to us at Military Mobility if you have any ideas!
All Veterans, including us, having given blood, sweat and tears for this country. Military Mobility will always be there to support them and we hope you come along with us on this critically important journey. The journey to ensure that all Veterans have a place to belong, understand that they are not alone, and maintain a healthy zest for life in our great nation.
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