PHOENIX -- D-backs pitchers Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler have both had relatives in the military. Any opportunity the two get to give back to those who have served hits a little bit closer to home for them.On Friday afternoon, Collmenter and Ziegler visited the MANA (Marines, Army, Navy, Air
PHOENIX -- D-backs pitchers Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler have both had relatives in the military. Any opportunity the two get to give back to those who have served hits a little bit closer to home for them.
On Friday afternoon, Collmenter and Ziegler visited the MANA (Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force) House in downtown Phoenix, a peer-run organization of homeless and formerly homeless veterans offering personal, individualized basic resources, community and advocacy for all veterans.
Collmenter and Ziegler chatted with veterans, provided them pizza for lunch and began the Fourth of July weekend by giving back to those who served the country.
"It's always been a soft spot, just for what they do, and it's all voluntary; it's not like they're forced into it. They choose to live their lives that way," said Collmenter, who has a brother in the Marine Corps. "Being able to come and talk to these guys and just what they've done, what they've done with their lives, putting it on the line for us, is special. Talking to them, they always think so much of us, but it's the complete opposite way around. They're the heroes."
Collmenter and Ziegler interacted with veterans from the moment they stepped inside MANA House. Some veterans asked for autographs and many took pictures with the pair of D-backs relievers.
The duo went on a tour of the house, also visiting with the veterans who weren't physically able to make it to the lobby or lunch room.
"Living corridors, laundry room, kitchen, everything here's free for them," Ziegler said. "They want to take these guys in and not just give them a place to live, but also help them right themselves and get themselves back out where they're living on their own and they're self-sufficient at that point."
Ziegler said supporting the military is something he's done since a young age. His grandfather was a colonel in the Army and his brother-in-law is currently a Marine fighter pilot.
The visit from Collmenter and Ziegler was the start of All-American Weekend at Chase Field. The D-backs will honor various military charities and organizations at Monday's game against the Padres and are giving discounted tickets to military and first responders this entire homestand.
"It's something we think about on a daily basis, that these guys have done so much for our country, that we need to find a way to give back to them, even if that's just shaking some hands and showing our support," Ziegler said. "When you get a place like this that is really reaching out and trying to take care of these guys that have fallen on a little harder times, it's really special."
Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.