Allied Forces Nick Hamm—a Recipient of The Purple Heart—and Allan Chadwick
are Making a Difference for American Combat Vets at The Warrior Built Foundation. Here’s Who They Are, What They Do, and Why It Matters
What exactly does The Warrior Built Foundation do?
We provide a wide variety of recreational therapies for US military veterans. We do this because everyone is different; each of us has different hobbies, or comes from a different background. We offer stuff like working on motorcycles, dirt bikes, off-road vehicles, hunting, shooting, camping, music, off-road racing, etcetera. We want to create a place that everyone can call home; a community garage where combat veterans can work on their own stuff, and help others. Our shop is a great place to hang out and meet new people who have similar experiences. I think the most powerful thing we do is create relationships with our fellow combat vets so they can meet other good people to add to their own support network.
Who qualifies to be a part of Warrior Built?
We support combat veterans from any branch of military service during any of the numerous combat operations that have taken place in our history. The veteran or active duty personnel must have conducted combat operations against the enemy— outside the wire. We want to honor their service and sacrifice. Our members don’t need to be wounded, have PTSD, or any other problem. Of course, we support those who were wounded and have received Purple Hearts and those who suffer from PTSD, but it’s important to note the only requirement is to be a combat veteran, period. We do it this way so other combat veterans who are doing great and those who have overcome challenges can share their victories with those who need a positive influence in their lives.
How do you help combat vets with their shop projects? We’ve also seen your guys on teams racing the Mint 400 and Baja 1000—how does that work?
Our facility is open on a daily basis for anyone to come use our tools and equipment, kind of like a hobby shop. Our shop manager and Wearer of Many Hats, Allan Chadwick, is on deck to lend his knowledge and experience. On the race team deal, after we get to know them, we pick a couple veterans throughout the year and try to do a little extra for them. We are not about handouts; we are about coming together as a team, building camaraderie, and giving folks an opportunity to give back to their fellow combat vets. We do a lot of cool trips, like going down to Baja and racing. I like to bring vets and volunteers who have been helping around our facility, people who work our booth at events and fundraisers, guys who take the time to help their fellow veterans with anything that might arise. If a vet wants to race, he needs to put in the work at the facility for race prep and training. What’s so cool is that anyone can find their niche in the stuff we do; most guys just want to be around other combat veterans no matter what it is. Even if it’s just fucking around at the shop, doing burnouts out back, riding the minibikes, jamming to some music, or just riding to bike night together.
How many vets have you guys interacted with over the years?
We don’t keep track. Some people think I’m crazy, but that’s not important to me like it is for other charities and organizations. I can tell you, well over a thousand combat vets have come through our facility. Sure, fixing someone’s bike helps them, and taking them to race the Baja 1000 is super rad, but what gives us the greatest satisfaction is watching combat vets achieve goals and create relationships with other veterans that would never have formed without our assistance. When vets start hanging out together outside of The Warrior Built Foundation, it means we did our job.
Why is that so important?
I believe every US veteran can relate to this… once you get out of combat service and return to Hometown USA, you go from having a bunch of friends to almost no one that can relate to you and your military experience. We are more than just a charity—we are trying to create a family that helps each other by doing rad shit. Our goal is to have Warrior Built facilities across the country, just like the VFW and American Legion Posts everywhere.
Many Hats, One Head
Words of Wisdom from WBF Shop Commander Allan Chadwick
What’s the hardest part of your job?
That’s a tricky question. The easy answer might be when I find myself awake 40 hours straight during an off-road race, or the 20-hour days leading up to one. Deadlines and long hours are a part of life, and plenty of people have it harder than I do. From a physical perspective, being 44 years old and crawling around on my hands and knees under race cars and bike builds can be tough, but idle hands are the devil’s playthings, and I’ve never been afraid of a little hard work.
What’s the most rewarding?
With this job it’s easy to list the so-called “rewarding parts” after the hard work everything we do around here requires. The finish line at a desert race, perhaps, but for me, finish lines are more like relief than reward. The notoriety and fanfare of being part of a winning team is cool, but something I can do without. There is a loudness that comes with the accolades that makes me uncomfortable. I prefer the background—it’s quieter there. Getting it done, and doing it right—that’s the groovy gravy stuff on my end. For me, the ultimate reward is the learning I do, and the friendships I make along the way. Being part of something bigger than myself. Without progression, life becomes one vile task after another. We are nothing more than the sum of our experiences, and one would be hard pressed to find more or better experiences than The Warrior Built Foundation.
What have you learned at WBF?
Lefty loosey righty tighty, but don’t quote me on that. Seriously… to be bold, and to take chances. Come check it out for yourself. Learn a little, listen and collect those experiences—we have plenty to go around. The world is so big, and we are so very, small, but that doesn’t mean we have to act that way.