My name is Robert Hess. I’m an Army veteran and a PTSD survivor. It took me twenty years and the VA PTSD evaluation process to beat it. I’m fortunate because I did come to grips with my experiences. But many veterans aren’t so lucky.
Over 6,000 veterans and active duty personnel take their own lives every year – that’s 20 lives every day. Almost one veteran lost every hour of every day.
These losses are both tragic and preventable.
The critical first step in reducing veteran suicide is educating the extended veteran community about the early warning signs, such as depression and social isolation.
The Rally4Vets program offers an opportunity for the motorsports enthusiast community to help reduce veteran suicides by raising the awareness level about veteran suicide and resources available to veterans dealing with PTSD. The program supports the mission of the Disabled Veteran Empowerment Network – DVEN.org.
We held our first Rally4Vets Top Dog Championship™ on October 10, 2021, at Summit Point Raceway, West Virginia. The format was a TrackCross/Track Sprint format that allowed experienced drivers and novices to compete on an equal footing for class Top Dog honors and for points toward the overall Top Dog Championship Trophy. Spoiler – Army won!
We will be back at Summit Point Raceway on 22 October 2022, so mark your calendars.
2023 will include a West Coast event along with our East Coast competition. Points at both events will count for the 2023 Top Dog Trophy.
Why is this an Inter-Service Event?
Ah, I’m so glad you asked! The Department of Defense conducts inter-Service sports competition in 23 sports, from archery to wrestling, but not in motorsports. The Rally4Vets Top Dog Championship program is the opportunity for veterans, active-duty personnel, family members, and just friends of a Service to come together in a friendly, low-risk environment to compete over the course of the year for bragging rights [Army-Navy football, right?] and to have their Service inscribed on the DVEN Top Dog Trophy.
Who Can Participate?
Anyone can be part of these events: veterans, including National Guard and Reserves; active-duty personnel, family members, and enthusiasts who want to support the military/veteran community.
We know not every motorsports enthusiast likes driving on the track. So, we’re planning a series of local fun runs, ending at a nice dinner location so you can take your significant other if you like. Do you have a special route you would like to share with the Rally4Vets community? Perhaps something like the Tail of the Dragon?