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 for me to beat it. I’m fortunate because I came 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 the resources available to veterans dealing with PTSD. The program supports the mission of the Disabled Veteran Empowerment Network – DVEN.org.
The Rally4Vets program is my part in helping reduce veteran suicide. Here’s my story . . .
I was commissioned in the US Army upon my graduation from the Virginia Military Institute in June 1967. Like many of my peers at that time, it was off to armor officer basic, then ranger and airborne schools, and my first Vietnam tour of duty in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne, operating out of LZ English.
That tour was followed by the 14th ACR in Germany, flight school, back to RVN with B/7/17th Air Cavalry, operating from Camp Holloway in Pleiku. Then more school, back to Germany, the Pentagon for several tours, finishing up as a Political-Military Advisor at the State Department.
After retiring from the US Army, I graduated from the Anderson School of Business at UCLA, founded a boutique consulting firm focusing on the community bank sector, and developed the TrakPointe Loan Pipeline Management Software System, named one of the best new technologies for community banks in 2013, by BankNews.
In 2003, I officially became a prostate cancer survivor and created a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, The Prostate Cancer Awareness Project (PCAP), to reduce the prostate cancer death toll through early detection. [I call myself the Accidental Survivor – you can read that story on the PCAP website – www.ThePCAP.org.]
In June 2016, I formed the Cancer Journeys Foundation - also a registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit charity to provide support to the cancer survivor community. The PCAP was merged into the Cancer Journeys Foundation at that time. Our prostate cancer early detection system is available – free and anonymous – on the Internet at ProstateTracker.org.
In 2017, following a Veterans Administration evaluation process, I joined the ranks of PTSD survivors. Just as prostate cancer is highly treatable with early detection, veteran suicides can be prevented by connecting vulnerable veterans with programs and resources.
Following my diagnosis, I created the Disabled Veteran Empowerment Network (DVEN) program - DVEN operates as a program under the CJF umbrella - to help connect veterans with benefits and resources to improve their quality of life. Veteran suicide prevention is one of our key program goals.
DVEN's Rally4Vets program combines my love of motorsports with the opportunity to help veterans cope with PTSD. Our current and future event programs include HPDE, trackcross (time trials / time attack) and we have some very fun road rallies in the planning stages.
We’ve structured the annual Top Dog Championships® so that everyone can participate on an equal footing: novice and experienced drivers with a daily driver Toyota or a Porsche 911 GT3.
The Top Dog Championships® are all about fun, teamwork, bragging rights, and helping our fellow veterans. It would be great to have you as part of the Rally4Vets Team.
I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn: Robert Warren Hess
“The truth is that you always know the right thing to do. The tough part is doing it.”
General Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. Army