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RACING FOR HEROES – AND HEALTH

South Boston News
There are 20 acres of off-road trails on the property of VIR, and some groups choose to do off-road training. All the driving lessons are intended to help soldiers maneuver in dangerous situations, and sometimes those situations happen in the mud. The last thing a soldier wants is to be stuck, especially in questionable or outright dangerous surroundings.
SoVaNow.com / November 08, 2018

Veterans see the world through a very specialized lens. Military service can change a person immensely, and only other veterans and active duty personnel can relate. Although there are thousands of jobs one can do upon entering the military, every single path begins with basic training.

You have to become a soldier before you can become a technician, or a boss, or a specialist.

Mike Evock retired from Special Forces in 2010, and had been racing a car with a small team while living in North Carolina. What drew attention to the racing effort was the fact that Evock kept handwritten names of fallen comrades all over the car. It developed quite a following, as Evock would allow time for fans to find names or ask questions.

But he wanted to help in a more hands-on way, especially after retiring. It was then that Racing for Heroes came to life.

Evock is a high-energy individual who is in constant motion. He may be doing maintenance on a R4H car, overseeing instruction, meeting with veterans in need or even writing grants and handling budgets. Everything he does is in support of his 501C3 non-profit organization — and its success that is measured by how well his veterans are doing in life and how well his active-duty instruction is given.

Before finding its permanent home at Virginia International Raceway, the operations were run in a series of places as the organization grew. But what VIR offers is a home, with space to grow.

Track owner Connie Nyholm, chief operations officer Kerrigan Smith, and everyone at the 1,300 acre resort made Evock and his team feel very welcome. In the time they have been there, they have become part of the larger VIR family.

The facility itself provides everything from the tracks, pits, skid pad, pavilion, kart-track racing, tech inspections, multiple gun ranges, spaces for tactical training, 20 acres of off-road trails to housing for the groups contracted for instruction. Those contracts, as well as all donations, go directly into running the organization.

Training contracts come from multiple sources, and R4H works with all five branches of the military, including Special Forces.

R4H occupies a large shop and offices just outside the entrance to VIR, in the Raceplex that is home to race teams and race technology developers. R4H keeps busy year-round: there are the big race weekends, large training contracts, open houses, fund raisers, maintenance and all sorts of activity surrounding the place.

But for Evock and his colleagues, all those things are there to bring veterans and active-duty personnel together to support each other.

Veterans frequently feel off-kilter in the rest of society after living a military life, so their connections to other veterans provide imperative emotional support. Younger, active-duty personnel who come for training, also find themselves being treated like family and learning from the veterans involved.

In a country where 20 veterans commit suicide every day (according to the Veterans’ Administration), the intervention of a group of military folks who like to race and shoot and share meals is immeasurably valuable.

It is the essence of Racing for Heroes.

In the back of their big shop is the beginning of a Wellness Center that, for now, houses some basic exercise equipment in addition to some cutting-edge light treatments.

One of the veterans who helps run the organization is currently using their Pulse Electromagnetic Field Therapy to help manage his injuries and nerve damage.

The group is currently working on getting him some Stem Cell Therapy that will address his longer-terms issues.

There is a booth that administers Inlight Infrared Therapy. Infrared light stimulates circulation; it penetrates into the cells to trigger photobiomodulation mechanisms to help with pain, inflammation, and healing.

This, along with the PEFT, can even help with Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, which is very common among soldiers, past and present.

Having found a home and an opportunity to grow, Evock and Nyholm are making plans for the future. There are plans to build another building to eventually house the entire Wellness Center, right next to the current shop.

The first addition to that building would be a Floatation Therapy Tank, which has many benefits, both psychological and physical.

“I’d say to any veteran to come out and see us, reach out. They can help and be part of the team, they may need to use the Wellness Center, they may have something to contribute, they may need employment, they may need support for their PTSD or they just want to be connected again,” Evock explained.

What matters to R4H, to Evock and all the guys who work for him and all the volunteers, is that the veterans in need reach out so that they can be supported.

“We try to concentrate on the healing part, and not the treatment part,” Evock also said, explaining that treatments and drugs can do as much harm as good.

PTSD, TBI and other issues faced by America’s veterans can be combatted with non-traditional, alternative treatments and a solid support system. Evock has an open door for veterans and their families.

Currently, R4H is selling raffle tickets, which can be purchased on their website, http://www.RacingforHeroes.org. They will raffle a special edition rifle and a hand-crafted knife, along with other cash prizes on Dec. 1.

There is also an Open House on Dec. 8. The public is invited to visit the shop and offices, take part in demonstration or instruction, and see how the whole thing works. Veterans are encouraged especially to use the Open House as a time to reach out and become involved.



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