TOGETHER WE CAN GIVE BACK BY CARRYING THEM FORWARD
VIA OPERATION MOTORSPORT
Brighton, ON. (June 27, 2018) – Operation Motorsport, a non-profit organization that provides recovery, retraining and rehabilitation opportunities to injured service members and veterans through motorsports, is partnering with IMSA race teams at both Watkins Glen International, NY and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, ON, on the two weekends that bookend the 1st of July Canada & July 4th USA birthday holidays, providing opportunities to 11 medically releasing Canadian and US service members.
The 11 day two country / two-race stretch marks a new milestone in the short but rich history of Operation Motorsport. It marks the pairing of the highest number of Excite "Motorsports Immersion" Program embedded beneficiaries, in a race event activation, with an all-time high number of participating host teams; Action Express Racing, Bodymotion Motorsports, CJ Wilson Racing, Core Autosport, Land Motorsport, Paul Miller Racing, Park Place Motorsports and Winward Racing.
Teamwork and organization are concepts service members know better than most, and while the teams are providing the first opportunity for US Army SPC Alexander Herrera, SGT Timothy Bernard, SSG Andrew Ostman, SSG Len Salmi, from FT Drum, NY, and Cdn Cpl (Retired) Mark Spiteri, who are being embedded as crew members in top-level race teams, working side by side with the other team members and gaining exposure to a new set of responsibilities, where they now hope to benefit from the skill sets that military training has provided.
"Today’s vets are unlike most vets from years past, each of them joined voluntarily. They decided to serve their country by their own accord and of their own free will. What we have asked of these young men and women is nothing less than we asked of the young men who stormed the beaches at Normandy. The risks are equally as great," says Paul Miller Racing Team Manager, Mitchell Simmons, "Many of these young men and women have witnessed or succumbed to horrors beyond our belief. As they rotate back to civilian life, many find it difficult, mentally or physically, to readjust. Many have difficulty finding work or staying employed due to these issues. We believe there is no greater sacrifice than to serve one's country only to return to a life worse than when they left. That’s we support Operation Motorsport 100%. The focus on the well being of veterans and giving them the opportunity to get in a motorsports environment is a perfect transition from military structure to civilian structure. The teamwork they are accustomed to blends seamlessly into a race team
environment. It’s simply a perfect fit for our team and Operation Motorsport."
After the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, beneficiaries and their teams will prepare the race cars, pack up and move north to the series only Canadian stop at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville Ontario. This is a unique opportunity for most of the beneficiaries as they get to experience two back to back race weekends with the same team but in different countries. Sound familiar? Well, it does to the average soldier who has suffered packing up and moving over and over while on tour or exercises. This is part of the reason this works, along with a new team, a new identity, and a new purpose.
Where we are today is not where I ever dreamed we would be….....," said Tiffany Lodder, Executive Director of Operation Motorsport, "In one year we’ve worked in seven series, activated at nine different tracks among 14 teams with 23 active beneficiaries of the Excite program and 12 waiting to participate. We delivered 164 recovery training days in our first year, culminating in (1) offer of employment, and (1) job placement for our beneficiaries! That is outstanding! I knew that motorsports could be restorative and used effectively as a recovery tool for our injured soldiers and wounded veterans, and I’ve been truly blessed this year to have met and worked alongside both our countries finest. It astounds me every time I think of how far DeWayne has come on his journey, and the incredible opportunities we’ve been able to help Theo participate. As I look forward, I know that there are so many opportunities to continue to provide exposure, inclusion, and acceptance as these beneficiary’s transition into the civilian world."
About 2nd Lieutenant Theo Bruulsema - 2Lt Bruulsema enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces ROTP program in 2011 and attended Ryerson University, where he developed an interest in motorsports on the
university Formula SAE team. After graduating, he was posted to 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario and completed some of the training to be an Aerospace Control Officer until medical issues prevented further progression. While
awaiting a release decision, he has been attached to 8 Wing Operations and the Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron (ATESS). Theo is pending a medical release in August.
About Chief Warrant Officer 3 (Retired) DeWayne Crawford - Field Artillery Targeting Technician (131A) with 20 yrs. & 7 months of service. Three combat tours in Afghanistan and one in Kosovo. He was responsible for providing assistance and advice to the commander and staff on all matters relative to the employment of target acquisition assets and the
Army’s targeting methodology. During two of his 3 Afghanistan deployments, he was involved in IED blast that caused a
(TBI) Traumatic brain injury, which caused severe migraines and vertigo. Because of the severity of the TBI, the Army determined that would be medically released.
About Corporal Mark Spiteri (Retired) - Enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 as an Infantry soldier and served in two Infantry Regiments, including 2 Commando, Canadian Airborne Regiment. Mark then transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force as an Avionics Technician, where he was attached to an operational unit working on Sea King helicopters. His primary duties included maintaining the electronic and electrical equipment in the helicopter for operational readiness, as well as launching the aircraft. He was released from the Canadian Forces in 2010 with an operational stress injury (PTSD) suffered while with the Airborne.
About Staff Sergeant Andrew Ostman - Enlisted into the United States Army Reserve in 2004 as an 88N, Transportation Management Coordinator out of Paterson, NJ. In 2006 he transferred to Active Duty as a 13F, Fire Support Specialist (Fister). Fisters are trained to be the eyes of Death. His primary task in the Army is to train soldiers to seek out and destroy the
enemy. Andrew twice deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). He also completed one deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve with the 10th Mountain Division (Ft Drum, NY). SSG Ostman suffers from severe spinal nerve damage and is due to be medically released from the Army.
About Sergent Timothy Bernard - Computer Detector System Repair (94F) with 10 yrs. of service. One combat tour in Afghanistan. He was responsible for providing timely assistance and advice to Brigade size elements concerning the deployment and repair of Communications and Electronic Equipment (C&E). During recent months, he has been diagnosed with Crohn's disease a rare autoimmune disease that affects the digestive tract. Because of the severity of the illness, the Army will evaluate if with the treatment he can remain in the service.
About Operation Motorsport - Operation Motorsport is a veteran-operated not-for-profit based in Brighton, Ontario and was founded on the basis of three simple words – Excite, Engage and Empower. Its mission is to engage, through motorsport activities, ill and injured service members and disabled veterans, affected by military service, leading to aiding in their
recovery and rehabilitation. Visit: http://operationmotorsport.org/