Driving Change: Robert Hess’ Rally4Vets Champions Veteran Empowerment and Mental Health Awareness

Driving Change: Robert Hess' Rally4Vets Champions Veteran Empowerment and Mental Health Awareness
Photo Credit: Rally4Vets

Robert Hess, a dedicated advocate for prostate cancer awareness and veteran suicide prevention, has significantly expanded his impact through Rally4Vets, an organization he founded to empower veterans and raise awareness about the challenges they face, particularly concerning mental health and suicide prevention.  

He was chosen as one of 10 national Breakaway from Cancer Champions in 2015 by the Amgen Corporation for his charity work in prostate cancer awareness and received a leadership award from the Academy of United States Veterans in 2022 for his initiatives in veteran suicide prevention.

Hess, discussing the genesis of Rally4Vets, shares, “In the fertile soil of innovation, a tiny seed of an idea blossomed into the extraordinary entity we proudly call DVEN. Our foundation rests on the profound belief that each of us carries an innate responsibility to weave the threads of positive change within our community.” Rally4Vets operates under the Disabled Veteran Empowerment Network (DVEN) and focuses on organizing motorsports events to foster a sense of community and camaraderie among veterans and supporters​​.

A standout event in Rally4Vets’ calendar is the Top Dog Championships, an annual motorsports competition held at Summit Point Motorsports Park, West Virginia. Hess explains, “The Rally4Vets Top Dog Championships are the world’s only inter-service military motorsport competition. Service teams: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, Space Force, and USPHS + NOAA (combined) compete for Top Dog honors.” This event creates a vibrant atmosphere of community and camaraderie, reminiscent of the camaraderie experienced during military service. The Top Dog Championships have become a vital source of funding for training service dogs for veterans with disabilities​​.

Reflecting on the significance of the event, Hess states, “As the sun rises and sets, veterans and community supporters come together, creating a bond that feels like a shared journey. For many, it brings back memories of the camaraderie experienced during training or long deployments.” Rally4Vets also supports the American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign, which encourages action to prevent veteran suicide. To support this program, Rally4Vets organizes drives across America, stopping at American Legion posts along the route to raise awareness and engage with the veteran community​​.

Driving Change: Robert Hess' Rally4Vets Champions Veteran Empowerment and Mental Health Awareness
Photo Credit: Rally4Vets

Moreover, Rally4Vets collaborates with celebrities to advocate for and engage with veterans. Hess notes, “By partnering with celebrities who advocate for and engage with veterans, DVEN is helping rewrite the narrative around mental health in the veteran community, making it acceptable, even commendable, to seek help.” The organization’s approach is multifaceted, focusing on public enlightenment about the pressures that lead veterans to desperation, building connections between veterans, their families, and crucial suicide prevention resources, and fostering robust partnerships with the Veterans Administration and other veteran-centric organizations​​.

Hess emphasizes the power of community in their mission, saying, “Our unwavering commitment is aimed at discovering avenues, such as motorsports events, to bring together individuals physically and emotionally. Pursuing meaningful connections is not merely a desire but a fundamental element of our humanity, underscoring the importance of acknowledging and nurturing these connections for collective well-being.” This approach not only raises awareness about veteran challenges but also actively contributes to the collective effort to reduce the toll of veteran suicides​​.

Rally4Vets provides a platform for veterans to connect, share experiences, and find a sense of belonging and purpose. “Beating veteran suicide is about connecting distressed veterans with available able sources. It takes connecting with people, listening to their stories, and helping to guide the way,” Hess explains. By creating a supportive community through motorsports events, Rally4Vets offers veterans a way to engage in activities that bring joy and a sense of achievement while also supporting their mental health and well-being.

Robert Hess’s Rally4Vets is a testament to his unwavering commitment to supporting veterans and raising awareness about the critical issues they face. Through innovative motorsports events, community building, and strategic partnerships, Rally4Vets creates impactful and meaningful experiences that bring hope and support to the veteran community. Hess’s work exemplifies the power of dedication, innovation, and community in driving change and making a lasting impact on the lives of those who have served their country.

A Vietnam-era combat veteran, he knows only too well the challenges veterans face reintegrating into civilian life following military service.  Rally4Vets programs offer companies a unique opportunity to connect with America’s  20+ million veteran families.  He invites the CEO community to join him in the fight against veteran suicide.

To learn more, connect with Robert on LinkedIn: Https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertwarrenhess


Published By: Aize Perez


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