After 20 years in the Marine Corps, 1st Sgt. Nick Hamm can positively say he thrives on the adrenaline rush that is familiar to all combat veterans. Even after a severe injury, he volunteered to return to the front lines. This passion, combined with his lifelong enthusiasm for motorcycles and off-road activities, drove him to establish The Warrior Built Foundation.
This off-road racing company is staffed by combat veteran volunteers, and it aims to recapture the camaraderie and teamwork of military life while providing a safe and supportive environment where veterans can come together to race, bond and heal.
“That whole risk factor, they want to feel alive again,” said Hamm, 46. “It’s a common thing with combat veterans. They want to feel that high they had in combat, that extreme adrenaline rush being here in this environment. It’s like a mission. Everyone has a job, and they can feel part of the team.”
Operation Iraqi Freedom
In 2005, Hamm was a platoon sergeant in Iraq operating in enemy territory when communications went down. While troubleshooting the radio system, he remembers hearing a boom before “everything went black.”
“I remember my legs hurting really bad. Did I lose both my legs?” he said. “The next thing I knew, I woke up in this tent hospital in Iraq.”
Hamm was told that he had undergone surgery and doctors were unsure whether they would be able to save his leg.
Although his leg was repaired, Hamm knew he wouldn’t be the same after the injuries he’d sustained. His life took a dark turn with substance abuse and divorce.