The Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) ATV racing circuit is one place where veterans like Rick Proctor and Brandon Rumbaugh are finding support for the issues they still face after combat tours in the military.
"It's a wonderful environment, especially for a vet who's trying to get back out of the house, so to speak, and into society," Proctor, of Taylor County, said.
That's one of the reasons why he created Vigilant Vet Racing, a racing group with a mission to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues veterans face.
Rumbaugh, a former U.S. Marine from Uniontown, Pa., was injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.
"He is really the walking definition of a hero," Proctor said about Rumbaugh. "One of his fellow Marines got injured while they were on patrol, Brandon turned around to help him and stepped on an IED himself, lost both of his legs."
"But it's not held him back," Proctor continued. "He's not going to quit. I mean, he's all about life."
He became interested in GNCC racing, and reached out to make a connection with someone in the field. When he met Proctor they launched an ambitious plan to build Brandon his own ATV.
Waynesburg Yamaha in Waynesburg, Pa. offered to design and build it for Brandon.
"He wanted to ride one of the harder to ride, one of the more competitive machines," said owner Brian Vasko, "and as soon as I heard that I was intrigued and really wanted to take on the challenge."
The challenge starts from the ground up. ATVs usually require both hands and both feet to drive, and riders often stand up to manipulate the challenging dirt tracks and maintain their balance. Rumbaugh wouldn't be able to do any of that.
Vasko and others created unique solutions to each of those challenges, down to a break-away pedal for Rumbaugh's foot inspired by bicycle pedals. Rumbaugh's prosthetic foot will remain locked in, but still be able to disconnect if something should happen and he needs to get away from the machine.
Vasko said he's never heard of one of those installed on an ATV.
"He basically has a footpeg system that's one of a kind," Vasko said.
Many of the parts are one of a kind, and when Vasko reached out to design companies like Lone Star Racing, they were eager to help.
"Once people found out about this they were literally tripping over themselves to get involved with the build," Proctor said.
"It's amazing that there are so many people that are stepping forward that actually want to help," Rumbaugh said. "We don't have to go to them, they're actually coming to us and that helps us out so much."
The ATV itself is used, and Vasko estimates they've put roughly $20,000 dollars into it, with just $6,000 in parts not covered or donated.
Once it's all together, GNCC Pro-Am rider Gabe Phillips of Thornton, W.Va., will help Rumbaugh learn how to ride it.
"It's an inspiration to me," Phillips said. "I've been through a lot with racing and injuries but seeing what he's gone through... words can't explain it."
Rumbaugh is anxious to get the ATV out on the track.
"I haven't even done a race yet and this is literally all I do, it's all I think about, it's all I want to do," he said. "It keeps me busy and it keeps me happy."
Those are two important goals for anyone with PTSD, Rumbaugh said, and he hopes his story will encourage more veterans to explore what Vigilant Vet Racing and the GNCC environment can offer. It at least gives veterans a venue to connect with one another and talk.
"I know that if I have a civilian talking to me, somebody who hasn't done half of the things that I've done… it's just going to go in one ear and out the other," Rumbaugh said. "Chances are they have no idea what I go through, what Rick goes through, or what every other veteran goes through."
Rumbaugh said veterans shouldn't let their pride overtake them and instead ask for help, because it is out there.
"Hang out and become a part of what we're doing," Rumbaugh said. "There's no doubt in my mind that it's going to change their life."
While the ATV runs, Vasko said it will take a few more weeks of work and testing before it's ready for Rumbaugh.