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Troops to the Track celebrates fifth anniversary

June 22, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

NASCAR Official Partner Bank of America Joins as Presenting Sponsor

RELATED: NASCAR Social Drive presented by Bank of America #troopthanks

Five years ago, NASCAR and the Armed Forces Foundation partnered to find a way to give back to service members who fight for and protect the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Together, they created NASCAR Troops to the Track, a year-round recreational group therapy program that honors service men and women, veterans, and military families at races throughout the country.

"Raising awareness of the unique challenges that returning service members face as they integrate back into the workforce is a core mission of ours. We're excited to partner with NASCAR and the Armed Forces Foundation to honor veterans and service members in a meaningful and fun way that provides a unique experience at races across the country."

--Jeff Cathey, senior military affairs executive at Bank of America

Today, the program celebrates its fifth anniversary by adding the support of Bank of America as the presenting sponsor. NASCAR Troops to the Track Presented by Bank of America in partnership with the Armed Forces Foundation has become one of the sport's signature initiatives. Thousands of troops from local military installations across the country have been treated to customized VIP experiences which include garage tours, driver meet-and-greets and recognition during the drivers' meeting, among many other special-access activities.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be here today, to be out here on the track and to see what you guys are doing for some of the wounded warriors out there," Petty Officer First Class U.S. Coast Guard Kurt Stricklen said while visiting Sonoma Raceway. "It's really a blessing that you guys are putting upon us, to let us go out and have a fun day out here at the track and just get to hang out with our shipmates -- we really appreciate it."

As part of NASCAR: An American Salute, a platform that rallies teams, tracks, fans and partners to collectively honor active and retired service men, women, and families, NASCAR recognized five years of the NASCAR Troops to the Track program during a ceremony at Sonoma Raceway

"NASCAR has a long tradition of supporting our nation's military and we are honored by the presence of the men and women who serve our country and their families at our races," said Brent Dewar, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer. "Through the collective support of the Armed Forces Foundation and Bank of America, we are proud to say that the initiative will expand to 27 races this season, the most since the program began five years ago."

Bank of America, the Official Bank of NASCAR, is entering its first year as the program's presenting sponsor. The bank's participation is an extension of its commitment to service members and veterans through a focus on housing, education, wellness, and employment. Bank of America is the proud employer of nearly 7,000 veterans, Guard and Reservists, with plans to hire 10,000 more over the next few years. The bank is also supporting service members and veterans through its "Express Your Thanks" campaign. Open to all, Express Your Thanks invites the public to share their appreciation of the nation's men and women in uniform at www.bankofamerica.com/troopthanks or by using the hashtag #troopthanks on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram through Veterans Day.

"Raising awareness of the unique challenges that returning service members face as they integrate back into the workforce is a core mission of ours," said Jeff Cathey, senior military affairs executive at Bank of America at Bank of America. "We're excited to partner with NASCAR and the Armed Forces Foundation to honor veterans and service members in a meaningful and fun way that provides a unique experience at races across the country."

Each season, NASCAR activates this special program at more than 20 races around the United States and allows for wounded service members, active duty troops, warriors in transition, veterans and military families throughout the country to enjoy a special day of activities at the racetrack.

Troops to the Track presented by Bank of America showcases NASCAR's commitment to our nation's military and we are proud of our joint effort the past five years to serve the military," said Patricia Driscoll, President of the Armed Forces Foundation. "Here at the Armed Forces Foundation, we constantly strive to 'serve those who serve,' and with the support from NASCAR and Bank of America, we will be able to provide more opportunities for service members and their families around the country to get away from the stresses of injuries and deployments while enjoying the patriotism of the NASCAR community."

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) governs the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and follow NASCAR at www.Facebook.com/NASCAR and Twitter: @NASCAR.

About Bank of America's Support for the Military

Support for the military has been an integral part of Bank of America’s culture for more than 90 years. That support permeates every aspect of the business, from hiring to philanthropy, volunteerism and products and services for military customers. Bank of America is committed to supporting the military by recruiting and retaining military employees. The bank employs nearly 7,000 veterans and reservists, and recently announced a goal to hire 10,000 veterans, military spouses and members of the Guard and Reserve over the next few years. The bank also supports veterans through partnerships with organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership, Student Veterans of America and the George W. Bush Institute. Since 2009, Bank of America has donated more than $11 million to nonprofit partners who serve the military, and in 2013, bank employees contributed more than 40,000 volunteer hours to support veterans and the military. 

Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/militarysupport and follow us on Twitter at @BofA_Community.

About Armed Forces Foundation

The Armed Forces Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to supporting and advocating for active-duty military personnel, National Guardsmen, Reservists, military families, and veterans.  The AFF returns 95 cents of every dollar raised to service members and their families through our programs.  Since 2001, the AFF has provided more than $95 million in assistance by covering travel, hotel rooms, home mortgages, car payments and everyday bills for families to be able to stay at their loved ones' sides during treatment and recovery from wounds suffered during war.  With the launch of our Help Save Our Troops campaign, the AFF proactively educates Americans about the hidden wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and advocates for those troops and veterans who have suffered these hidden wounds.  The ultimate goal of Help Save Our Troops is to reduce military suicides.  Through this campaign, the AFF provides counseling services for military families, including children, grants for therapy and addiction counseling, and runs a variety of recreation group therapy programs to boost morale amongst service members, veterans, and their families.