Retired U.S. Army generals Peter Chiarelli and Jack Keane will join seven Major League Baseball players as guest panelists for the ongoing MLB and People magazine "Tribute For Heroes" campaign, an All-Star Week initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and builds upon both organizations' commitment to honoring America's heroes.
Justin Verlander of the Tigers, Nick Swisher of the Indians, Barry Zito of the Giants, Jonny Gomes of the Red Sox, Brad Ziegler of the D-backs, Chase Headley of the Padres and Craig Stammen of the Nationals also will help do the choosing.
From now through 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, visit TributeforHeroes.com to nominate an active or former member of the Armed Forces of the U.S. or Canada. It will mean a chance for them to represent their favorite MLB team at the 84th All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field and televised live on FOX.
Gen. Chiarelli served as 32nd Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army until his retirement in 2012. He currently serves as CEO of One Mind for Research, which facilitates public-private partnerships throughout the world, accelerating discovery and dissemination of disease-modifying preventions, diagnoses, treatments, and cures of brain disorders.
"I've dedicated my life to serving this great country, so it is my honor to join Major League Baseball and People magazine in recognizing my fellow service men and women as part of this guest panel," he said. "It will be a special moment for me and fans around the nation when this extraordinary group is honored prior to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game."
Gen. Keane, a four-star general, completed 37 years in public service, culminating as acting Chief of Staff and Vice Chief of Staff of the US Army. He is President, GSI, LLC, Chairman of the Institute for the Study of War and participates in two foundations that help veterans: Welcome Back Veterans and American Corporate Partners.
Verlander, at each of his home starts, hosts veterans from Veterans Affairs Medical Centers throughout the state of Michigan. The veterans, along with their families, watch the game from his personal luxury suite. Veterans receive a personalized welcome letter from Verlander, while all guests receive a Verlander's Victory for Veterans T-shirt and are welcomed on the scoreboard during the game.
Swisher is an Ambassador to the Wounded Warriors Project and he and his wife JoAnna visited troops in a USO-sponsored trip to Germany and Afghanistan in November 2011.
Zito is founder of Strikeouts For Troops, a national nonprofit that provides assistance and comforts of home to injured service members and support to military families. He actively supports Welcome Back Veterans and is an advocate for cutting edge research in the areas of PTSD, rehabilitation, and re-introduction into the mainstream community.
Gomes works closely with organizations like TroopsDirect.org and the Eagle Fund.
"My plan after college was to enter into the service if baseball didn't work out," Gomes said. "Fortunately it did, but I never forget the path I could've taken. That's why it is so important for me to help the troops whenever I can. Through programs like 'Tribute For Heroes' and organizations such as TroopsDirect.org and the Eagle Fund, I am able to give back to the brave men and women on the front lines and those who have been injured on the field of battle."
Ziegler founded Pastime for Patriots to help support servicemen and women, as well as their families, by offering them opportunities to attend Major League Baseball games. In addition, the nonprofit foundation's mission is to honor all members of our armed forces and their families for their extreme sacrifice to our country by providing educationally-based financial assistance to military children and family-friendly activities for military members and their families.
Headley, in addition to having a number of good friends in the Navy, enjoys proximity to Naval Base San Diego and Camp Pendleton has given him a special appreciation of the military community and afforded him the opportunity to meet many of our nation's active service members and veterans. He is launching "Headley's Heroes," a community program focused on identifying and highlighting local heroes, creating awareness of the positive impact that these individuals/groups are making and rewarding their efforts with experiences at Padres home games. Recognizing military members and their families is one of his priorities.
Stammen's best friend from high school and college teammate is a Marine. Driven by this personal connection, Stammen is dedicated to honoring U.S. service members in any way he can, including regular visits with wounded veterans at Nationals Park and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Last winter, he was able to join Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his overseas holiday USO tour, making stops in Afghanistan, Bahrain and aboard the USS John C. Stennis.
Once all of the nominations are reviewed, three veterans/military service members per club (90 finalists) will be selected by MLB, People and the guest panel. Fans will then be encouraged to vote online from June 9-30 for their favorite story from each club. All 30 winners, one representing each club, will be announced on July 10. They will be included in All-Star Week festivities and recognized during the All-Star pregame ceremony.
One of the 30 "Tribute for Heroes" winners will be featured in People magazine during the week of the All-Star Game.
Welcome Back Veterans is an initiative of MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, addressing the needs of veterans after they return from service. MLB has committed more than $23 million through Welcome Back Veterans for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide research and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership with Centers of Excellence" at university hospitals throughout the country.
As part of its 2013 charity initiative, "People First: Help America's Veterans," People magazine is partnering with Welcome Back Veterans and three other nonprofit organizations that are committed to providing assistance to military men and women, and will feature them in multiple editorial stories in People throughout 2013.
Welcome Back Veterans funds programs at The University of Michigan, Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Emory University, Weill Cornell in New York City, UCLA and the Red Sox' Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston. These institutions are developing new programs and strategies to improve the quality, quantity and access to PTSD and TBI treatment for veterans, particularly those returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.