The 2021 NASCAR Salutes Together with Coca-Cola campaign is more than just a military appreciation platform — it’s a campaign that salutes our heroes next door. Each week, NASCAR.com will highlight multiple individuals in the week’s race markets that have made a difference with their service both in the military and to their communities.
In our second profile of a hero next door, NASCAR.com is highlighting U.S. Army Sergeant First Class (SFC) Robert Lovell, who is currently stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Lovell grew up in Martinsville, Illinois, and joined the Army in 2004 as an infantryman. During his 17 years in the Army, he has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, while also spending four years as a drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Georgia, helping to train, develop and mold young recruits. Following his last deployment, he received his current orders that placed him at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
At Fort Leavenworth, Lovell was able to channel his love of the outdoors — mainly fishing and hunting — into volunteer work with the non-profit The Fallen Outdoors (TFO) organization. Started in 2009 at a remote outpost in Afghanistan by three Army soldiers, TFO is an all-veterans volunteer group that unites veterans with each other and the great outdoors and serves thousands of veterans a year. The mission of the organization is to set up and organize outdoors adventures for veterans from all military branches — at no cost — and to teach them a skill and passion they can continue and maintain for a lifetime.
“Our major goal is to build a strong network of like-minded individuals,” Lovell said. “Getting veterans or active duty members out of the barracks or off the couch can do wonders on psychological problems they could be dealing with. Being a part of The Fallen Outdoors helps me connect with those guys and hopefully in some way give someone a new purpose or renewed joy in life that may have been in a rough spot.”
This year, the Team Kansas TFO — of which Lovell is a volunteer staffer — organized 231 hunting and fishing trips for 878 veterans throughout the state. He is currently working on a project leading a Wood Duck Box build with TFO and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The boxes will be delivered to various landowners who help support TFO.
Lovell, who is married with five children, is currently working toward his Bachelor of Science degree in Fish and Wildlife Science through Oregon State University online. His additional volunteer work has included more outdoors work as he has worked with the installation biologist at Fort Leavenworth to plant spring pollinator plants and helped to cut and clear fallen trees from the various walking and horse trails around the installation. He has also participated in wetland seeding projects coordinated through the Leavenworth Ducks Unlimited Chapter.
Lovell is an avid NASCAR fan and his favorite driver is Kevin Harvick. He took his wife, brother and sister-in-law to their first race in 2019.