The National Football League today kicked off Salute to Service, the League's year-round effort to Honor, Empower and Connect with our nation's service members, veterans and their families. Salute to Service is highlighted in NFL games during Weeks 10 – 12 and in other special events around the League, as fans and the NFL's 32 clubs demonstrate their gratitude for the sacrifices of our heroes.
Since 2011, Salute to Service has raised more than $34 million for military and veteran nonprofit organizations. The NFL is proud to support its core Salute to Service partners – the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), the Pat Tillman Foundation, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the USO and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) – to fund programs and provide resources that improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families. The League also partners with USAA, an Official NFL Salute to Service Partner, to work together to honor and recognize service members and veterans with unique experiences around NFL calendar events.
"Through Salute to Service we're able to honor the sacrifices made by our heroes and continue to ensure that more service members, veterans and their families receive the assistance they need in a timely manner," said ANNA ISAACSON, NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility. "The NFL is proud to continue to highlight those who have served and continue to serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces with a stronger emphasis on this during the month of November."
Beginning Sunday, Nov. 3 and continuing throughout the rest of the month, clubs will designate one home game as their Salute to Service game, honoring servicemen and women from all branches and their families. To learn what each of the 32 clubs are doing to support Salute to Service, visit NFL.com/salute.
Huddle for Heroes – Letters of Gratitude Campaign
In honor of its 100th season, the NFL launched Huddle for 100. The goal of the initiative is to inspire 1 million people to volunteer 100 minutes of their time, with the end goal being 100 million minutes of service.
New this year, as part of Huddle for 100, the NFL and DoSomething.org launched Huddle for Heroes to encourage fans to give back to the military community. Huddle for Heroes is a call to action for NFL fans to write letters expressing gratitude for service members, veterans and their families.
As part of this initiative, the NFL and the Bob Woodruff Foundation selected seven service members who have unique stories and a love for the game of football. NFL players wrote thank you letters to these seven service members and were filmed reading them aloud. The service members receiving these letters from their favorite players were then filmed reading them and their reactions were captured. The League produced mini-segments of these service members' stories and the letter exchange reactions, which will be promoted and pushed out across NFL platforms throughout November as a call to action for fans to join in the initiative and send their letters today.
A national TV spot featuring this initiative will launch on FOX and NFL Network on Thursday, November 7 during the TNF game.
The players featured in these spots are New Orleans Saints quarterback DREW BREES, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES, Atlanta Falcons quarterback MATT RYAN, Chicago Bears running back TARIK COHEN and defensive end KHALIL MACK, Seattle Seahawks linebacker SHAQUEM GRIFFIN and former New York Giants defensive end JUSTIN TUCK.
Fans are encouraged to write their letter by visiting DoSomething.org and then posting on social media with #SaluteToService and #[Club Name]Huddlefor100. All fan submissions will help boost their club's Huddle minutes.
Huddle for 100 – Salute to Service Huddle
The NFL is hosting a series of League volunteer-centric events deemed "National Huddles" throughout the season. On Nov. 6 from 11 AM – 2 PM, leading up to the San Francisco 49ers Monday Night Football game on Veterans Day against the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL will host its fifth National Huddle – Salute to Service Huddle.
Through its partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the NFL and the 49ers will team up with The Mission Continues, an NFL-BWF grantee, to host a Huddle consisting of volunteer activities centered around fostering a sense of community among veterans and civilian community members. These veteran-led activities will allow volunteers to donate their time and empower local veterans to continue their service after service by helping increase and improve the environment at Alemany Farm, an urban farm that benefits underserved communities in San Francisco with free, organic, and healthy foods.
The Mission Continues is a nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to continue their service, and empowers communities with veteran talent, skills and preparedness to generate visible impact. Participating in the event will be over 200 volunteers, consisting of veterans and civilians, NFL Legends and current 49ers players. Volunteer efforts will include activities such as: mulching, planting, gardening, tree removal and much more. NFL partner and proud supporter of Salute to Service, Lowe's, will provide supplies and Lowe's Hero volunteers onsite at the Huddle event.
Honoring the Service and Sacrifice of Military Members and their Families
Throughout the year, the NFL, its clubs and players honor and recognize service members, veterans, and their families at NFL events.
The NFL partners with TAPS to fund programs that support the families of fallen military service members. Many thousands of survivors are able to access youth and mentor programs, and services to support all those grieving the loss of a military loved one. Through this partnership, more than 4,500 survivors who are part of TAPS have been able to participate in NFL events and honor their loved one.
"This year my daughter, son and I were so lucky to be able to attend the Pro Bowl with TAPS. Football was a passion of my husbands, so to be able to share this NFL experience with my kids felt like I was able to show them something that their dad loved," said Christina Rice Romero, Surviving Spouse from TAPS. "San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle came over and took pictures with us and we then had the opportunity to spend a few hours together where we made a wooden American flag that we hung in our house proudly. I thank the NFL, TAPS, the 49ers and George Kittle for honoring our hero and helping my family make some unbelievable memories."
Empoweri ng the Military Community through Partnerships and Resources
By partnering with organizations that support service members, veterans, and their families, the NFL uses its platform and resources to create a positive impact for our nation's heroes.
In an effort to honor leaders who exemplify Pat Tillman's enduring legacy of service, the NFL partners with the Pat Tillman Foundation, providing academic scholarships for more than 635 Tillman Scholars who are now pursuing careers in medicine, business, law, science, education and the arts.
"The NFL's support has been pivotal in empowering us as Tillman Scholars to serve as the next generation of leaders," said ASHLEY NICOLAS, 2016 Tillman Scholar. "My fellow scholars are always pressing forward, looking for the next problem to solve and the next mountain to climb. It's that decision to chase big problems and take action that unites us to keep serving long after we take off the uniform."
The NFL partners with Wounded Warrior Project® to help provide wounded veterans with free programs and resources that empower them to live their lives to the fullest, on their own terms. NFL's support has helped WWP fund the expansion of combat stress recovery programs, such as Project Odyssey, and serve more than 170,000 wounded veterans, family members, and care givers.
"For years, the NFL has supported and honored our military, and we are so grateful for their continued generosity toward wounded veterans. Whether it's mental health support, physical or rehabilitation training the NFL's help ensures we can continue to offer these services to our warriors, family members, and caregivers, free of charge," said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) MIKE LINNINGTON.
In 2018, the NFL expanded its support for the military community with a $2 million grant to the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF). The partnership is designed to optimize the positive impact that the NFL and its 32 clubs have on the military-veteran community by leveraging BWF's expertise in finding, funding and shaping programs that deliver measurable results. In total through this partnership, BWF has awarded 17 grants to best-in-class organizations that support post-9/11 veterans and their families through programs that focus on education and employment, quality of life and rehabilitation and recovery.
"For many veterans, we've heard that transitioning out of service can actually be more stressful than a deployment", said ANNE MARIE DOUGHERTY, Chief Executive Officer of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. "BWF is proud to partner with the NFL and their Salute to Service initiative as we work towards a shared goal of ensuring veterans transition into communities where they have the resources to live a healthy lifestyle and thrive after service."
Connecting through the Shared Love of Football
The NFL brings service members and their families together through their shared love of football and provides opportunities for those serving to connect with one another.
For more than 50 years, the NFL has supported the USO and its mission to strengthen service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country. In 2018 the NFL announced a $5 million commitment to support events and programming that reach service members and their families via the more than 230 USO locations worldwide. Since 2007, NFL players and coaches have traveled on USO tours to 26 countries to meet and thank more than 96,500 service members.
Additionally, the NFL serves as a Force Behind the Forces® by continuing to offer USO locations its NFL Game Pass service free of charge. This allows service members at USO centers in nine different countries around the world to watch any NFL game live and online in its entirety.
"The NFL helps to bring the USO's critical mission to life in so many ways. Whether it's taking players and coaches on tours, sending Super Bowl watch party kits to USO centers, or delivering flag football equipment to some of the most remote military locations," said ALAN REYES, USO Chief Operating Officer. "Through our rich history and strong partnership, we have continued to develop more and new ways to bring football - such a beloved tradition and reminder of home - to service members and military families around the world."
The NFL supports several other organizations supporting the military community such as Merging Vets and Players (MVP). MVP's mission is to match up combat veterans and former professional athletes together – after the uniform comes off – to give them a new team to tackle the transition together.
About the NFL's Salute to Service
Partnership with USAA
Since 2011, the NFL and USAA, an Official NFL Salute to Service Partner, have worked together to honor and appreciate active-duty military, veterans and their families by creating unique opportunities that bring the military community and the NFL closer together.
Among numerous events this season, USAA hosted "NFL Boot Camps" during training camp with multiple teams and at military installations at home and abroad, where military members competed in drills similar to those used at the NFL Combine, Super Bowl ticket giveaways for military veterans and offering military members the chance to meet NFL players in small groups. Fans can join the NFL and USAA in honoring the military community by visiting NFL.com/Salute and see military appreciation highlights from across the League.
In addition, the NFL and USAA will again honor a deserving member of the NFL community with the annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The award recognizes NFL players, alumni, coaches, owners, and front office staff who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community. Current San Francisco 49er and former Atlanta Falcons guard BEN GARLAND received the 2018 Salute to Service Award and will serve on the award panel and vote to select this year's recipient. The nominees for the 9th annual "Salute to Service Award presented by USAA" were announced yesterday. The finalists will be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors in Miami on FOX on Saturday, February 1, the night before Super Bowl LIV.
Additional Salute to Service Integration
Beginning this Sunday and continuing throughout the month, NFL Salute to Service games will feature on-field items such as Salute to Service ribbon footballs and camouflage equipment for players including quarterback towels, captain's patches, Gatorade towels, New Era caps and knits, and Nike apparel products. Players will also wear helmet decals honoring military branches including the Army, the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as the National Guard.
Game-worn Salute to Service merchandise and footballs will be auctioned at NFL.com/Auction. Special camouflage merchandise will be available at NFLShop.com and in select stadium retail stores. The NFL does not profit from the sale of Salute to Service products. All charitable contributions are donated to the NFL's military nonprofit organizations.
In the support of Salute to Service, Barclaycard is donating a percentage of all NFL Extra Point card purchases, up to $25,000, to the Pat Tillman Foundation throughout the month of November.
In support of Salute to Service, from Nov. 7 – Nov. 11, $10 per Pro Bowl ticket purchased will be donated to the NFL's Salute to Service non-profit partners. Purchase tickets here.
For more information on the NFL's Salute to Service, please visit NFL.com/Salute.
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Jordyn White, NFL