For some, the adrenaline rush reached while in the field is what they look for in an outlet. Some choose to skydive, some rock climb or even bungee jumping. One Soldier choses something else...auto racing.
Autocross is a timed competition in which drivers navigate one at a time through a defined course on either a sealed or an unsealed surface. It is a form of motorsports that emphasizes safe competition and active participation.
"When I go to do autocross or a track day it's just me and the machine and the track," said Sgt. Aaron Daugherty, an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "Everything I was worried about that week I set to the side for those couple of minutes or couple of hours and just worry about how I can do the best at this event."
Sometimes the outlet chosen can prove to be just as stressful. Daugherty found this out when he had an engine failure. Not only is his car his tool for stress relief, but it is also his way to get to work.
"I really had to not catastrophize because it'd be easy to say "man I am never going to fix my engine or I won't have enough money to fix it," said Daugherty. "What stopped me from doing that was thinking everything happens for a reason, I try and find the positive things in what went wrong."
Along with the adrenaline rush Daugherty receives racing, he also has the added benefit of meeting like-minded individuals and connecting with them.
"Racing has connected me with thousands of people around the world, through social media, and in person. I have connected with people with the same hobby."
The Soldier for Life concept supports every soldier throughout all stages of service. Stress management is an area the Army is working hard to give soldiers the tools they need to navigate through difficult times. Mental fitness is paramount.
"It's commonly known that stress kills," said Joseph W. Varney the prevention branch chief from Army Substance Abuse Program on Fort Campbell, Kentucky. "For human beings to be healthy and happy they need to have healthy active outlets for their stress.
Any hobby you have to relieve your stress is beneficial, it could be basket weaving or it could be autocross," said Varney. "As long as it is an event that is active and physically engaging maybe even involves a social environment any opportunity you have to relax and have fun and blow off some steam is beneficial to you both mentally and physically."
The relationships formed between fellow hobbyists are an added benefit of finding positive stress relieving outlets.
"Connection is the key," said Varney. "We as human beings tend to congregate, we build civilizations and cultures based on connectivity."
For another soldier, it isn't just the adrenaline rush he is after.
"My job can be extremely stressful," said Spc. Wyatt Boyd, an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "When I have that time off and I can just get in my car and listen to the radio. It is zen."
Boyd uses techniques the Army's Master Resiliency Training course has taught him to get through difficult times with his car.
"I hunt the good stuff," said Boyd. "Even though my car went down while I was at sniper school, it gave me time to fix and upgrade parts. I could upgrade the tires and it came out better because of it."
Meeting fellow minded racers is a large part of why he loves racing.
"Racing has brought a lot of positives to my life," said Boyd. "From parking next to someone who has a similar car to yours, now you're friends from that small similarity. It's a way to meet new people who have the same interests."