NFL Announces Nominees for 12th Annual Salute to Service Awards Presented by USAA, New Fan Voting Opportunity

The NFL and USAA, an official NFL Salute to Service partner, have announced the 2022 nominees for the annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The Salute to Service Award recognizes NFL players, coaches, staff and alumni with a demonstrable commitment to honoring and supporting the military and veteran communities, as nominated by NFL clubs.

New this year is an opportunity for fans to vote for their favorite candidate, which will help determine the three finalists for the award. To see all the nominees and vote, fans can visit NFL.com/SaluteFanVote  from now until November 30. One vote per day, per fan is allowed.

The finalists will be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized on NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally in February during the week of Super Bowl LVII.

“This year’s nominees for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA all deserve special recognition as community leaders for their hard work and support of our military, veterans and their families,” said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President. of Military Affairs. “With fan voting now part of the award selection process, we encourage fans to read about each nominee, cast their vote and be inspired to find their own ways to show military appreciation.”

Last year’s honoree was Andrew Beck, Denver Broncos Tight End. Beck will serve on the awards panel that selects the recipient of the 2022 Salute to Service Award once the three finalists are determined through fan voting.

Additional panel members include Air Force Academy graduate and three-time Super Bowl champion Chad Hennings; Jim Mora, Sr., Marine Corps veteran and former NFL coach; Lenny Bandy, US Marine Corps Veteran and NFL Vice President of Security; and Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs.

As the presenting sponsor of the Health to Service Award, USAA, a leading provider of insurance, banking and other financial services to members of the United States military, veterans and their families, is contributing $25,000 on behalf of recipient to official aid societies representing all branches of the United States military. . The NFL will match USAA’s contribution by donating an additional $25,000 to the military or veteran charity of the awardee’s choice.

The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA’s annual commitment to recognize and honor the military and veteran community. Each year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor, empower and connect with service members, veterans and their families as part of the NFL’s Salute to Service initiative. The league’s military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events.

Below is the list of the 2022 Salute to Service Award submitted by USAA nominees:

Cardona serves patriotic double duty, as a Long Snapper for the New England Patriots and a commissioned lieutenant in the Naval Reserves. Since arriving in New England, Cardona has been one of the most active players in the community. In 2018, Robert Kraft presented him with the Patriots Ron Burton Community Service Award and recognizes him for his outstanding commitment to supporting military families and veterans. In 2016, after a fire at Joint Base Cape Cod, Joe visited with military families on base and supported a pledge to help replace items lost in the fire. He also ran a bunch of free soccer clinics for military kids on bases in New England. Additionally, Joe participated in Brothers of Life at Gillette Stadium. The event, hosted annually by the Krafts, invites wounded Israeli soldiers to meet with wounded American soldiers. Cardona’s commitment to supporting our nation’s military goes well beyond his community efforts. Cardona attended the Naval Academy where he was a four-year player as a long snapper. During his rookie season in the NFL, Cardona balanced a second full-time job serving as an Ensign in the Navy and a staff officer at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island. As a service member, Cardona performed more than a dozen re-enlistment and retirement ceremonies at Gillette Stadium. He hosted several re-enlistment ceremonies, including those held immediately after practice where he changed from his football uniform to his navy to lead the ceremony attended by his teammates and coaches. Cardona, who participates in the annual Vietnam Veterans pinning and Memorial Day flag planting ceremonies, also coordinated an effort with his teammates and coaches to donate more than 200 tickets to military members for a but tchup sunday night. All the guests have returned from deployment in the previous six months and were welcomed on the field by the players during the pre-game warmups.

Justin Pugh, a Guard with the Arizona Cardinals, personifies every pillar of the NFL’s Health at the Service campaign. Honor and appreciate the sacrifices made by veterans to understand their unique sacrifices for the citizens of this country to have their freedom. Pugh shows this appreciation for our veterans through the non-profit he supports called Merging Vets and Players (MVP). He played an important role in the MVP organization, empowering veterans and NFL players to embrace their stories and experiences and connect with each other once the veterans are no longer wearing their uniforms. MVP recently held an event at the Cardinals training facility in which Justin participated. The event featured a 30-minute workout for the 53 veterans in attendance and was followed by a roundtable discussion about the mental struggles players and veterans face. . Pugh believes that having a “macho mentality” is all too common, not only in the NFL, but also in the military community. Pugh, whose brother Michael currently serves in the U.S. Air Force, understands the mental health challenges players and veterans can experience. His willingness to talk about the importance of mental health and share his own story gives other veterans and players a lot of confidence to talk about their issues. He wants to continue to be an example for veterans by gradually removing the stigma surrounding mental health.

The son of a US Marine Corps captain who served in the Vietnam War, Coach Arthur Smith is an avid supporter of hosting military events for the team to connect with service members. , veterans and their families. In August, Smith took the team to visit with the cadets and tour the campus at the United States Military Academy at West Point while the team was in New York for their preseason game. The players shared a meal with the Black Knights team, hosted a ride to Michie Stadium, and toured the campus to learn about the history and sacrifices of their alumni. Additionally, last summer, Smith participated in a visit to Eglin Air Force Base in Destin, Florida. Smith, among other Falcons players and executives spent the day on the base, where he toured the installations, spent time with many military members and had the opportunity to eat lunch with active soldiers. Most recently, while the Atlanta Falcons team was in Seattle for an away game, Smith hosted a private screening with players and local military members for the new film Devotion, a heartbreaking and inspiring story of two Navy fighter pilots in the Korean War. Also that week, the Falcons teamed up with the Seahawks and hosted a visit to the military base on their day off to show appreciation to service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In addition, the Falcons hosted military veterans for a fishing tournament called “Fishing with the Falcons” and hosted active duty military at Training Camp practices this summer.

As an active player, and since his retirement from the NFL in 2015, Ravens Legend Jarret Johnson has shown a constant commitment to honoring service members, veterans and their families. With the goal of hiring veterans, Johnson partnered with a service-disabled Air Force veteran to start a Black Rifle Coffee franchise in Niceville, Florida. The franchise employs veterans, service members, spouses and children of military members from around the world. Each month, Johnson uses his coffee shop to host events that bring veterans together and allow them to discuss issues they face such as overcoming injuries, transitioning from military life, job opportunities and more. Johnson is an annual sponsor of SOF Missions, a non-profit organization that provides care to veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with the goal of ending veteran suicide. Every Memorial Day, Johnson organizes, sponsors and participates in various military fundraising drives. In May 2022, Johnson hosted “The Lu,” in honor of Master Sgt. Luis Deleon-Figueroa who was killed on August 21, 2019, while deployed in Afghanistan. The event raised more than $15,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. On Memorial Day 2021, Johnson raised nearly $15,000 for the EOD Warrior Foundation and Pipe Hitter Foundation. Workouts that initially started in Johnson’s backyard have grown into major fundraising drives throughout the community. Johnson regularly provides leadership development and positive motivation to the 7th Army Special Forces Group through various speaking engagements, shooting events, fishing trips, veteran family cookouts and frequent participation in grueling physical exercises with Special Forces teams. In 2021 and 2022, he completed the Savage Loop ultramarathon of the Group the Special Forces, a 43-mile race around Choctawatchee Bay in northwest Florida. Additionally in 2022, Johnson was named Honorary Battalion Commander for the 1st Battalion, 7th Spec. Iali Forces Group.

Buffalo Bills Long Snapper Reid Ferguson demonstrates his honor and appreciation for our nation’s military, veterans and their families through his continued involvement in the Buffalo community. Both his grandfathers, Jim Seal and Robert Ferguson, great uncle, Jerry Seale, and grandfather, Howard Seale, all served in the military. During Service Health Weeks 2020 and 2021, Ferguson hosted a meet and greet happy hour honoring military members, veterans and their families at a local brewery — which it will host again in November this season. The event benefited the Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York (WNY), which empowers veterans to achieve economic wellness by offering holistic health and social services needed to complete the transition from military to civilian life. During the 2019 Salute to Service ceremony before the game, he held the full field flag alongside more than 150 active duty and former military members during the national anthem. In 2020, Ferguson and his teammates put together Salute to Service gift bags that were distributed to local military organizations throughout WNY. Last season, Ferguson chose the Whirlwind Veterans and Warrior Retreat for his organization My Cause My Cleats. This organization, located in Eden, NY, is a resilience farming program established by veterans for veterans of all military branches. Last April, Ferguson launched Grills Mafia, a unique BBQ x Buffalo Bills clothing line where a portion of the proceeds are donated to WNY veterans charities.

Derrick Brown (Defensive Tackle)

Entering the NFL in 2020 after an All-American career at Auburn University, Carolina Panthers Defensive Tackle Derrick Brown was quick to give back to the military community. As the son of an Army service member, he has seen firsthand the hard work and dedication it takes to be on the front lines. Brown has partnered with the United Service Organizations (USO) of North Carolina and supports the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) for the NFL’s My Clause My Cleats initiative. Brown’s military ties are personal, and he takes the sacrifices of others to heart. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work and dedication on the field, but at the end of the day, we’re not on the front line,” Brown said. “We thank these men and women, and all others who have served. Salute to the Service for me is a time to recognize the men and women who are serving now, going overseas, and keeping them safe at home. This is the our time to recognize and honor.” Brown continues his ongoing support for military personnel to provide meal service for veterans who face food insecurity. He also engages with service members during annual training camp visits, as well as other morale-boosting events that support military personnel in the Carolinas.

Cody Whitehair (Offensive Lineman)

As a veteran leader on the team and one of our team captains, Cody Whitehair consistently supports the community and especially members of the military. He has participated in past Salute to Service week events, including a luncheon at Halas Hall with veterans from the Midwest Veterans Homeless Shelter. In partnership with Campbell’s Soup and Jewel-Osco, Whitehair served lunch and spent time getting to know the men and women who serve our country. This season, for the first time, participate in our Home Team Hand-Off ticket donation program by purchasing four tickets to each Bears home game and donating them to our Boeing Military Salute honorees and their families. At each Bears home game, a deserving member of the military is honored in an on-field recognition during the third quarter. The Military Salute provides an opportunity for the Bears, Boeing and our great fans to thank and show support for those who protect our country while also honoring the history and heritage of Soldier Field. Whitehair enhanced the program not only by personally donating the tickets, but also by giving each honoree one of his signed jerseys as a memento of the day. He plans to continue his military support by participating in our team’s Service Health events throughout the month of November.

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst has been a rising national voice in the mental health treatment, awareness and advocacy community since sharing his story of battling depression and anxiety in 2020. That year, he and his family produced a video with a message to Marines in 2020. support of Suicide Prevention Month, which helped introduce Hurst to the mental, emotional and psychological challenges faced by current and former military members. Since then, he has been dedicated to veterans outreach, working with many organizations around the country through the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation. Hurst pledged $20,000 to the Top Dogg K9 Foundation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that trains and pairs service dogs with disabled veterans struggling with post-deployment mental health challenges. At the third annual Hayden Hurst Family Foundation golf tournament held in February, Hurst and his mother, Cathy, worked with Acadia Healthcare to fly in a cadre of military patients who were being honored before participating in the event. Proceeds from the tournament benefited the Youth Crisis Center, an organization that helps children with depression and anxiety in Hurst’s hometown of Jacksonville, FL. In August, Hurst partnered with the Cincinnati-based Armed Forces Ticket Association to provide four tickets for an active-duty service member and his family to watch the Bengals’ preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium. The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation is actively collaborating with Acadia Healthcare to host military appreciation events in the Greater Cincinnati area, while also working with the behavioral health science department at the University of South Carolina , Hurst’s alma mater, in impeg projects neither military.

Throughout his time with the Browns, Guard Wyatt Teller has honored, empowered and connected with the military community in Northern Ohio. Teller is the son of retired Army Reserve Major Rick Teller, so supporting military members and their families is a cause that is personal to him. “I’m thankful for the people overseas and for the men and women who keep us protected,” Teller said during an interview. “These people are the ones who put their lives on the line for us and for what our society believes is right.” In 2021, Teller supported the Green Beret Foundation, which provides US Army Special Forces soldiers and their families with emergency, immediate and ongoing support. In addition, Teller played a huge role in surprising the family of a service woman with a grand prize of $50,000 as part of the Browns and CrossCountry Mortgage lotteries. Teller always prioritizes honoring our servicemen while on the Browns campus, including this offseason in OTAs and Training Camp. During the two, the team hosted more than 200 military members, and Teller was able to spend time with each person after practice. Also, Teller took time after practice one day of Training Camp to connect with a fan and FaceTime with the 35-year-old member of the United States Army who was stationed in Saudi Arabia. The future has many plans in place for Teller when it comes to empowering military members, including supporting the USS Cleveland, which will be docked in Cleveland in 2024, when Teller will be involved in making this special for the ship’s sailors .

Dan Quinn (Defensive Coordinator)

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s longstanding support of service members, veterans and their families demonstrates the tenants of Health at Service to honor, empower and connect with those who preserve our freedoms . Quinn honors those who serve by donating their time to causes that help the military community. Quinn’s story of support stems from her personal interactions with those who dedicate their lives to service, from childhood friends to family members to chance encounters with veterans. While with the Seahawks, Quinn founded “Quinn’s Corps” – a program to honor service members. While coaching the Falcons, Quinn expanded the program to include the United Service Organizations (USO) team and game visits for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Now with the Cowboys, Quinn is empowering the military community to be a voice of support and encouragement to veterans and active duty service members. Quinn frequently hangs out with Merging Vets and Players (MVP) and joins the team to host mental health workouts and discussions with local veterans dealing with the challenges combat veterans and former athletes face in transition. The connection Quinn is forming with local military partners carries over to his day-to-day coaching role. In May 2022, Quinn joined General Paul E. Funk II, Commanding General of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command for a Leader Professional Development webinar. During the session, Quinn spoke about maintaining resilience through adversity and developing a unified team while working with people from different backgrounds and experiences.

Michael Purcell (defensive lineman)

Denver Broncos Defensive Lineman Michael Purcell is committed to honoring, empowering and connecting with our nation’s service members, veterans and their families. For four consecutive seasons (2019-22), Purcell honored Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) for the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative saying, “This is really just a shout out and thank you for those who have served our country and sacrificed thus. much.” Taking it a step further, as part of the initiative in 2019, Purcell visited with a local veteran business resource group to thank them for their service and share their tips. In 2021, he unveiled his cleats at the WWP Colorado Springs office, displaying the words of encouragement he chose for the warriors. Each year he has auctioned off his cleats to benefit WWP, matching the total in 2021 and raising more than $3,310 in the first three years for WWP’s mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors who have sustained an injury physical or mental illness or injury, incidental to military service. He also helped lead a virtual team visit with WWP in November 2020, providing an opportunity for players and veterans to connect during Salute to Service month. In May 2021, he participated in a “Wingman Week Virtual Tour” with Buckley Air Force Base and United Service Organizations (USO) Colorado, with the goal of empowering service members, strengthening connections, and reviving the spirit of combat During his limited break from football before the team’s 2022 training camp, Purcell was one of two players present to visit and honor local service members in a USAA Salute to Service caravan.

Eric Hipple is a former NFL Quarterback whose ten-year career was spent with the Detroit Lions. Since the suicide of her 15-year-old son Jeff in 2000, Hipple has devoted her life to raising awareness and breaking down the stigma surrounding depressive illness. Hipple is a recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and numerous other awards for his community-based work combating teen depression and suicide while reducing the stigma associated with the disabled. His commitment to helping others increase their quality of life is demonstrated by his work with numerous organizations. Hipple’s message of resilience provided awareness of mental fitness to service members, law enforcement officers, professional groups and students. He has provided workshops with the US Navy’s Fleet Forces Command on suicide prevention and destructive behavior for the past 12 years. These suicide prevention workshops for the US Navy are held at bases on the East Coast, Europe and the Middle East. In addition, Hipple has conducted suicide prevention workshops for numerous units in the US Army and US Air Force over the previous two decades. His 2008 book Real Men Do Cry: A Quarterback’s Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression and Surviving Suicide Loss received a presidential publisher’s award. Hipple currently serves as an Outreach Specialist for the Center for Neurological Studies, a research and clinical foundation serving military veterans and former NFL players. Hipple organized the “After Impact” treatment program at the Michigan-based Eisenhower Center that brings together veterans and NFL legends for a 30-day stay. Hipple continues his service by serving on the boards of Vet Life, an urg anization dedicated to helping veterans transition to the civilian lifestyle, and the Michigan Heroes Museum.

Selected by the Packers out of Boise State in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, durable Offensive Lineman Daryn Colledge spent five seasons with the team. After retiring from the NFL in 2015, Colledge enlisted in the Idaho National Guard in 2016 as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter repairman. “I always wanted to come back and serve, and I had a great opportunity to do that,” Colledge said. “It was like being back in a locker room, just being with a group of people who had the same goal as you and who were striving for the same result… I found that team and that brotherhood again in the army I missed. Different goals and consequences, but a team nonetheless.” Growing up in North Pole, Alaska, Colledge was surrounded by military bases and serving family members, including his brother. He continued to foster that military connection while playing football, traveling as part of a 2011 Navy Entertainment trip with the Packers and joining United Service Organizations (USO) tours when he could. In 2018, he was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months, serving as a mechanic, door gunner, medical assistant and shovel operator. Their four-person medical evacuation unit will respond to a variety of calls to help bring soldiers home safely. Since returning from Afghanistan, Colledge has continued to serve in the National Guard until April 2022. He now serves as a reservist while working for his alma mater, Boise State. “The NFL allowed me the opportunity to take care of my family and do things I never imagined possible. But it also gave me the opportunity to enter service not as an obligation, but like something he could do for me,” Colledge said.

The Houston Texans organization has a proud tradition of honoring those who serve, and one of our greatest champions for the cause is the Houston Texans Cheerleaders. The Texans Cheerleaders have always dedicated their time and talent to honor service members. Since the franchise’s inception, the Texans Cheerleaders have dedicated their time and talent to honoring service members by supporting organizations such as the United Service Organizations (USO), Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Operation Finally Home, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). ), Tuesday’s children and many others. In 2019, the Texans Cheerleaders traveled overseas with Armed Forces Entertainment headlining the Salute to Service Super Bowl 10-day Tour that visited Al Dahfra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, bases in Qatar, and Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The tour featured the Texans Cheerleaders along with four Texans Legends who performed 60-minute shows. Cheerleaders spent time getting to know service members and hearing their stories by going on base tours, going through drills, playing flag football and sitting and listening as they talked about their friends and and families at home. Supporting women veterans is a cause that is of particular importance to the Texans Cheerleaders. Before the pandemic, Texans Cheerleaders and alumni of the program volunteered with the Women of the Armed Forces and Veteran Empowerment (WAVE) Campaign to pack and distribute much-needed underwear, pajamas and comfort items to women who receive treatment at the local Veterans Affairs (VA). Hospital. Additional events include visiting the USO Center at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to provide meals to service members and volunteers, stepping up to distribute turkeys and Thanksgiving meals to families at the Joint Reserve Base of Helen gton Field, provides meals for National Guard and Army Reserve troops coming home, and welcomes back 120 service members from a ne-month deployment overseas.

Brian Decker (Club Staff – Director of Team Development)

Brian Decker, Indianapolis Colts Director of Team Development, has continually embodied the values ​​of the NFL’s Salute to Service campaign during his tenure with the team by honoring, empowering and connecting with service members, veterans and their families. Decker, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Special Forces, prioritizes mentorship with military recruits and veterans. Assist the Indiana National Guard by supporting recruiting efforts through speaking engagements. Last August, Decker spoke at the Indianapolis Army Recruiting Battalion’s future soldier recognition program. Inspire recruits by highlighting the opportunity to serve while inspiring and motivating them to transition into the military. Decker has also become a mentor to service members going through the process of transitioning out of the military into other areas such as sports and the private sector. He makes several calls a week with veterans to share their stories and offer guidance. Decker relates to veterans about the challenges they face after military service while encouraging mental wellness. In addition to his involvement in recruiting and mentorship, Decker speaks with America’s Gold Star Families at Colts home games, serving as a source of encouragement and healing for families who have lost loved ones in the military service.

Throughout his NFL career and since his retirement in 2018, Jaguars Legend Linebacker Paul Posluszny has supported various Jaguars Salute to Service campaign activations in Northeast Florida to honor, empower and connect with service members , veterans and their families. During the NFL’s 2017 My Cause My Cleats campaign, Posluszny dedicated his cleats to the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) to help raise awareness on the big stage and donated the proceeds to the PTF to honor Pat Tillman as player and soldier. Posluszny also participated in the Jaguars’ “Pros vs. GI Joes” event to connect with active duty service members in person and overseas in a video game show-down that provided the troops with an evening of fun competition and friendly Posluszny has a huge heart for our military and continues to empower our service members by visiting and supporting K9s for Warriors in Jacksonville, an organization that provides highly trained service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. In addition, he helps the Jaguars, along with soldiers from the St. Michael community, provide 1,000 military assistance packages to active duty service members they watch every year by leaving a heartfelt note in every box he packs.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Running Back)

Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Clyde Edwards-Helaire personifies every component of the NFL’s Service Health campaign to honor, empower and connect service members, veterans and their families. This is thanks to his upbringing in a military family that was focused on structure and determination. His mother, Tonge, joined the US Army in 1996, while his father, Shannon, joined the Marine Corps in 1989. The couple met while each was serving as drill instructors at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, getting married. in 2002. “Being at home with my military mom and military dad, I guess that’s where my competitive nature comes from,” Edwards-Helaire noted shortly after he was selected in the first round of the Draft NFL 2020. “Just having that education knowing when times get tough, nothing can break you.” Shortly after his arrival with the Chiefs, he focused his charitable efforts to support those in the military. A demonstration of these efforts is seen through their previous work with Blue Star Families’ “Thank You, Military” Sweepstakes, in which military members entered for a chance to win a Sleep Number 360 smart bed. As a result of this campaign, Edwards-Helaire personally surprised the Henke family of the United States Army with a new Sleep Number 360 smart bed and additional products. It also raises funds in support of Friends In Service of Heroes (FISH), an organization that aims to foster support and awareness of the sacrifices our service members make. It is also a pillar when the Chiefs engage with the military, including at their annual military appreciation day each year during boot camp. “A lot of people tend to put the military on the backburner, especially veterans,” he noted recently. . “Always keeping this in mind is close to my heart.”

The Las Vegas Raiders are proud to nominate alumnus Jay Schroeder for the 2022 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. Schroeder played five seasons with the Raiders as the starting quarterback and spent 11 years overall in the NFL. Schroeder now lives in Las Vegas and embodies every tenant of the NFL’s Health in Service campaign to honor, empower and connect service members, veterans and their families. During his tenure with the team, both as a player and now as a student, Schroeder has consistently shown support for the Raiders’ community and military partners. Most recently he participated in the USAA Bootcamp held at Allegiant Stadium for more than 100 service members from Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases, which are both located in Southern Nevada. Schroeder has engaged with Seats for Soldiers program participants on several occasions over the past three years. Jay works with a ranch in Southern Nevada, where he helps advocate and raise money for The Liberty Projects, a charity that empowers veterans as part of their work to save America’s wild mustangs. The ranch provides veterans with an outlet to interact with horses for training, rehabilitation and camaraderie. Schroeder was also part of the first civilian group to visit Nevada military bases at the start of the pandemic when he helped boost the morale of service members by signing autographs and providing Raiders gear.

Appreciation for our nation’s military members and veterans extends far beyond the field for Chargers Defensive Lineman Morgan Fox. Throughout his life, Fox has seen firsthand what it means to be a part of a military family. Three generations of family members, including Fox’s father, his father, and his father, have proudly served and seen combat duties that have impacted their lives. This influenced Fox’s philanthropic outlook and desire to give back to the military and veteran communities. On the field, Fox has raised awareness and funds through the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative for non-profit organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Merging Vets and Players (MVP), One Tribe Foundation ( Formally 22KILL), and War Heroes on Water. . These organizations support and help veterans overcome the mental and emotional struggles they face once their service is over. Fox has worked for years with the WWP in many events, including participating in training events, being a featured speaker, and sitting down with wounded warriors to hear and understand their experiences firsthand. Fox’s support of our nation’s military and veterans will continue in 2022 with special events planned for the team’s Health to Service initiatives. Fox will raise funds through its merchandise line — with all proceeds going to support the WWP — and host wounded warriors at the Chargers’ practice facility in November.

Rob Havenstein (offensive tackle)

The Los Angeles Rams are proud to nominate starting offensive tackle and Super Bowl Champion Rob Havenstein for the 2022 NFL Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. Havenstein was drafted by the Rams in 2015 and has been making an impact on and off the field ever since. Here in Los Angeles, he has helped enrich the lives of service members, veterans and their families in many ways since the team moved in 2016. Havenstein has donated countless tickets through our ticket program for all communities to local military organizations to allow service. members and veterans a chance to connect with their local team. Last year, Havenstein also donated its suite to the families of fallen service members we honored through our partnership with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Havenstein has supported a number of military and veterans organizations through the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative. This year, Havenstein chose to honor Warrior Rising, an organization that empowers U.S. military veterans and their family members by providing opportunities to create sustainable businesses.

Inspired by his WWII Navy veteran grandfather and Air Force veteran best friend, Blake Ferguson has fostered a deep military appreciation throughout his life. Since being drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2020, Blake has immediately dedicated his time, energy and involvement to the team’s Service Health initiatives that honor, empower and connect with service members, veterans and their families. He jumped at the opportunity to not only participate, but also to lead. In 2021, it hosted its first military appreciation barbecue event for active military members and veterans in South Florida during Salute to Service week. It partnered with United Way of Broward County’s United Mission and the Miami Dolphins Food Relief Program to distribute 800 Thanksgiving meals to Broward County military veterans and active duty reserve members. Ferguson also attended the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami flag football game between officers and service members and visited the air station later in the month to connect more with the Coast Guard. He supported the Miami Dolphins Tragedy Assistance Program for Families of Survivors (TAPS) and continues to seek every avenue to support the military community from team and individual opportunities to messages of encouragement through social media and digital.

Ben Kotwica (Assistant Special Teams Coordinator)

Ben Kotwica, Minnesota Vikings Assistant Special Teams Coordinator, embodies every tenant of the NFL’s Service Health campaign to honor, empower and connect service members, veterans and their families. Coach Kotwica honors veterans and military members for their service. He is a decorated officer who spent eight years in the United States Army after graduating from West Point. His military career included operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Korea and Iraq. Kotwica was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Aviation Branch and was selected to fly the AH-64 Apache Longbow, the world’s leading attack helicopter. He was an Attack Helicopter Platoon Leader in support of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1998 to 2001 where he was responsible for the health and welfare of 20 soldiers. Coach Kotwica makes it a point to honor the military community by thanking military guests — veterans or otherwise — who attend the games. He knows firsthand the sacrifices that every service member or veteran is required to make and is sure to recognize them every time he gets a chance. As an NFL veteran and coach, Kotwica appreciates the Salute to Service campaign each season as the League honors, empowers and connects with the brave men and women who secure our freedom.

New Orleans Saints Linebacker Demario Davis comes from a family with extensive military service and respect for its importance. Her father, Steven Davis, is a 32-year veteran of the United States Army, a former member of the United States Army Special Forces, and served six combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Davis also has two cousins ​​currently serving. Knowing the commitment required when a family member serves, Davis works with children of active duty service members through her Devoted Dreamers Foundation, which specializes in teaching young people important life skills. His latest commitment to youth in the New Orleans area, many with close ties to the military, is his Devoted Dreamers Academy that debuted at the start of the 2022-23 school year. The academy is an after-school program, with tutoring, a seven-on-seven football team, life skills training and exposure to aspects of sports business administration. In 2021, Davis and four other NFL stars participated in an episode of Family Feud against a group of NFL legends. Davis and her teammates donated their winnings to the Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that builds homes located at military and Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers where families can stay for free while a loved one is in the hospital As a co-founder of the S.H.I.E.L.D 1 Foundation, which aims to break cycles of generational poverty through empowerment, Davis has a long-term vision to help veterans with services including health insurance and long-term disability go, mental health services, professional development and financial literacy. “I think celebrities and athletes are always looked down upon, but our military is among the true heroes in our nation,” Davis said. “These are the people who become They are celebrated as heroes in our country, who constantly put their lives on the line for us to enjoy our freedom.”

Sergeant Kevin Farrell (Club Staff)

New York Giants Security Sergeant Kevin Farrell embodies the NFL’s Salute to Service campaign to honor, connect and empower service members, veterans and their families. Farrell honors the sacrifices made by military personnel and veterans by sharing their experiences through short stories. While deployed in 2012 to Kabul, Afghanistan with the 508th Military Police Company, his first story about his relationship while in the military was published in the New York Times. After his second deployment in 2015 with the 328th Military Police Company in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Farrell became a member of New York University’s Iraq/Afghanistan Creative Writing Group and has been featured three times in the Literary Review of Cornell University, EPOCH, for his stories about military life. Sharing these stories speaks to the incredible sacrifice he made for our country and how his service changed his life. After all, it’s the books written by his favorite authors that inspired him to enlist in the first place. After his seven years of service in the United States Army, Farrell found a way to continue his work in the military community. In 2016, he volunteered with a non-profit called Stand Down of North Jersey, which connects homeless military veterans and their families with service providers that address their physical, educational, employment and personal He was also a volunteer firefighter and medical first responder from 2007-2011 and volunteered with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps in 2009. Farrell recently ran the Army Ten Miler race, which serves to empower service members, promote Army and community relations support, and ran the Tunnel to Towers 5K to honor those lives lost during 9/11. Giving back to the community, especially the military community, is extremely important to him and he hopes that their experiences inspire others to do the same.

Harrison Bernstein (Former Coach Intern)

Harrison Bernstein, former New York Jets Intern Coach, founded Soldiers To Sidelines (STS), a nationally recognized 501c3 Veteran Service Organization that provides a renewed sense of purpose for Service Members, Veterans, Military Spouses and and Gold Star Families to become a character based. sports coaches in their communities. The military makes great coaches because of their extensive training in leadership, motivation and team success. By also educating and training service members, veterans and military spouses to become character-based coaches, Bernstein’s organization simultaneously fills a need for better coaching in sports and provides veterans with purposeful employment at serving their communities. Soldiers To Sidelines is building an army of veteran coaches who model the United States military values ​​of duty, integrity, ethics, honor, courage and loyalty. To date, STS coaches have positively influenced approximately 45,000 young athletes. Through their impact, veterans gain mental well-being, connection, fulfillment and purpose as they continue to serve their country as coaches. Bernstein most recently wrote and published a book called The Everyday Coach: Harnessing the Magic of Influence. The book is provided free to every STS Coach and all profits from sales support the non-profit. Accompanying the book, Bernstein hosts a podcast called Harrison Bernstein’s Everyday Coach, which highlights leadership lessons learned from military heroes, business leaders and coaches to manage the craft of coaching in everyday life.

Jemal Singleton (Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs Coach)

Jemal Singleton, the son of an Air Force sergeant, followed in his father’s footsteps when he began his military career at the Air Force Academy. A three-year starter at running back for the Falcons, Singleton’s leadership led him to become one of only six players in program history to be named a team captain twice. After graduating from the Air Force Academy, he spent two years at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas, where he served as the Chief of Media Relations. During this time, he deployed to Tbilisi, Georgia, in support of the Georgia Train and Equipment Program (GTEP), an 18-month, $64 million, American-sponsored program aimed at increasing the capabilities of the forces Georgian armies from training and equipment. four battalions of 600 men with light weapons, vehicles and communications. In 2003, he returned to the Air Force Academy to serve as the Executive Office for former Director of Athletics, Ret. Col. Randy Spetman, before joining the Air Force Football coaching staff. As part of his continued commitment to service, he remains focused on supporting veterans and military efforts in the community. He has been involved with several military organizations, including the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and the ProjectHealing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF). Since joining the Eagles coaching staff as a running back/assistant coach in 2021, Singleton has always dedicated his time to the military community, from visiting veterans at the local Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital to passing time with military members attending Eagles games and practices.

John Wodarek (Club Staff – Event Operations Manager)

While John Wodarek manages many of the activities that take place at Acrisure Stadium as the Event Operations Manager, his true passion is doing whatever he can for the military community in the Pittsburgh area. Wodarek, who is the son of a veteran, embraces every pillar of the NFL’s Health in Service campaign to honor, empower, and connect with our nation’s service members, veterans and their families. He serves as the Steelers’ liaison to the military community, working with various organizations to help those who have served our country and continue to serve. He works tirelessly to cultivate relationships with military programs, services, local bases and veterans organizations. He coordinates with them to provide countless opportunities, including our “Heroes Night Out” at Acrisure Stadium, the annual event that honors hundreds of post 9-11 veterans for their service and sacrifice. The “Salute Our Heroes” event of the U.S. Steel is an annual program that honors a veteran at each Steelers home game. Wodarek began before the offseason the search for “unsung” heroes who don’t often get the recognition they deserve. He works with veterans and their families to encourage them to share their stories and experiences with Steelers Nation. One of Wodarek’s most memorable experiences has been working with local veterans to provide life-changing service dogs to empower them in their everyday lives. His continued relationship with the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center has opened doors for veterans and given them hope and knowledge that people care. Wodarek’s work also extends to the families of military members, who they support by creating memorable reunion events for families with their deployed service members and organizing experiences for members of the Tragedy Assistance Program for r i Survivors (TAPS) during training camp, Pro Bowl and even Super Bowl. trips

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers Tight End, has exemplified what it means to honor, empower, and connect with military members, veterans and their families since entering the league. Kittle’s appreciation for the military community is rooted in family with his uncle Pat, grandfather Carl, and other loved ones having served. Honor the sacrifices of service members and the efforts of military nonprofits through the My Cause My Cleats initiative, recognizing the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) in 2018, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) from 2019 to 2021, and Merging Vets & Players (MVP) in 2022. In the 2021 season, Kittle purchased more than 150 tickets to donate to the National Guard. This year, he will host service members at every 49ers home and away game, extending his show of appreciation across the country. In 2020, Kittle and his family founded the Hidden Pearls Podcast (HPP) to connect with military veterans to unite the world through storytelling. Recently, HPP joined “Diving With Heroes” in Cozumel to reflect on the benefits of scuba diving by veterans, especially those with physical disabilities. Kittle donated more than $25,000 to charities selected by veterans hosted on the podcast last season. Kittle empowers service members and their loved ones by using his passion for football and teamwork to encourage others to overcome adversity. Since building a relationship with TAPS at the 2018 Pro Bowl, Kittle has fostered long-term relationships with families who have lost a loved one through service. After gifting the family of fallen Army Sergeant Martin LaMar tickets to Super Bowl LIV, Kittle spent several seasons reconnecting with the LaMars by hosting them at Training Camp practices. LaMar’s Purple Heart Medal, presented to Kittle by LaMar’s family in 2020, is still on it sits in Kittle’s closet as a reminder of the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes.

John Schneider (General Manager and Executive Vice President)

Seattle Seahawks General Manager John Schneider dedicates his time to the local military community to honor, empower and connect with service members, veterans and their families. Since 2012, he has purchased and donated four home game tickets to local military service members who have recently received military honors or recognition. New this year, he added side passes to the experience and made the service members his personal guests, spending time with each assistant on the sidelines of the match. Beyond the individual recognition and time spent with Schneider, this program is valued at more than $18,000. As part of the team Merging Vets & Members of the Players Organization (MVP), Schneider regularly speaks openly and honestly to the group about his father’s military service and how being part of a military family has impacted his life. During the team’s special “Military Day” at Seahawks Training Camp, Schneider greeted more than 100 service members in attendance and cheered them on during the team’s USAA Military Combine event after practice. Schneider was also the featured speaker at the Seahawks’ 2022 Change of Command Ceremony to officially welcome the team’s honored military unit for the 2022 season. At the event, Schneider addressed more than 300 Marines and sailors in Bangor Trident Base to reinforce the Seahawks’ commitment to the local military community and communicate a message of inspiration, support and appreciation for their sacrifices and dedication to our country. Schneider supports the team’s year-round commitment to the military community which includes inviting more than 700 military service members to our home games, veteran support through our Task Force 12 non-profit organizations , and unique opportunities for the entire community military

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Center Ryan Jensen makes Health to Service efforts a priority through relationships, outreach programs and game initiatives. Jensen’s grandfather served in Vietnam and Korea as a member of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Jensen’s uncle followed in his footsteps in the Army, and Jensen’s adopted brother served in the Marine Corps. In 2014, Jensen formed a special bond with a five-year-old boy named Cooper, whose father was tragically killed in action before Cooper was born. Through the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Jensen has been in contact with the family. For the past several years, he has honored Cooper and TAPS through the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats initiative, bringing awareness and support to Gold Star Families grieving the loss of a member of the armed forces. Annually, Jensen has supported the Buccaneers’ Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Awards, which honors military families from each branch of the military. He also visited MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa through United Service Organizations (USO) Central Florida to promote fundraising efforts for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and lead team support for Military Day in Training Camp. Jensen donated nearly $60,000 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation for its “Jensen’s GI Joes” community ticket program, which provides memorable game experiences for military families. In the past year, Jensen found a new and unique way to make an impact when he connected with Guide Dogs of the Southeast to provide a donation of $75,000 to sponsor three service dogs that will provide companionship and assistance of each day for service members recovering from injury. This effort, along with visiting local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and hosting zoom calls to support the active military miles, is another example of how the Bucs Center continues to give back to the local military community.

Clifford Thomas (Club Staff – Operations Technician)

Clifford (Cliff) Thomas is an Operations Technician for the Tennessee Titans who plays a vital role in the maintenance and operation of Nissan Stadium, home of the Titans. Most importantly, Thomas served three years, six months and 21 days in the United States Army. During his time in the military, he bravely fought overseas for the United States in the Vietnam War. He remained close to many of his friends from his time in the military. Over the years, Thomas has used his passion for youth to develop and facilitate mentoring programs for the children of his peers. With a strong emphasis on mental health and workforce development, he intentionally trains each individual to create and achieve life goals through a commitment to health and wellness. He also spends a lot of time during the holidays working closely with Toys for Tots with his friends from the Nashville veteran community. In addition to his direct support of the military community, he spends his time volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, which serves a number of local veterans. The Tennessee Titans thank Cliff Thomas for his years of dedicated service to this country, and his continued support and commitment to our organization.

Through every hardship and challenge, Coach Rivera credits his success in the face of adversity to his military education and the values ​​instilled in him growing up the son of a 32-year-old United States Army Commissioned Officer, Eugenio Rivera. Rivera has spent his entire 11-year career as Head Coach giving back to a military community that has defined his success as a leader in the league. He continued his great work with the military by joining several initiatives this year. In May, Rivera, player commanders Jonathan Allen and Jamin Davis, and Co-Owner and Co-CEO Tanya Snyder surprised the departing troops with a visit to BWI Airport where the team distributed care packages to the troops while they were waiting to board their planes. Rivera also took time on the training camp to visit with more than 250 active and former members of the military at the club’s Salute to Service Day. Additionally, he brought the entire team to Joint Base Andrews for a practice in front of the troops before the first preseason game and hosted nine wounded/paralyzed veterans in Operation Warrior Wishes at Training Camp. Rivera hosted the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) families at the OrthoVirginia Training Center in Commanders Park for the second consecutive year. He also donated all proceeds from his appearances on the league’s SiriusXM NFL radio channel to the United Service Organizations (USO).

Since 2011, USAA has used its sponsorship to honor and appreciate active duty military, veterans and their families, creating exclusive opportunities that bring the military community and the NFL closer together. Among many events this season, USAA hosted “NFL Boot Camps” during training camp with several teams, where military members competed in drills similar to those used at the NFL Combine. For more information on how USAA honors and appreciates our military, visit SaluteToService.com. Fans can join the NFL and USAA in honoring the military community year-round by visiting NFL.com/Salute.

USAA Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is one of the leading providers of insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to more than 13 million members of the United States military, veterans who have served honorably and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, USAA has offices in eight US cities and three overseas locations and employs approximately 38,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local non-profit organizations in support of military families and the communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com.

Salute to Service is the NFL’s annual initiative to honor, empower, and connect our nation’s service members, veterans and their families. Since 2011, this effort has raised more than $58 million for military and veteran support organizations such as the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF), the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors ( TAPS), United Service Organizations (USO) and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). For more information on Salute to Service, visit NFL.com/Salute.

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