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Verlander honored with Clemente nomination

MINNEAPOLIS -- For the second time in three years, Justin Verlander has been selected as the Tigers' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the Major League player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

For Verlander the nomination is a continuation of his efforts to raise awareness for veterans and their battle with medical issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I don't do what I do for veterans because I want the notoriety, but it's pretty cool that people take notice," Verlander said on Tuesday. "And any time that you're able to bring awareness to a situation that needs some help in an area like what I'm doing with PTSD, it's always great. So I'm honored. I put a lot of heart and soul into this, and it means a lot to me."

Verlander partnered with the Detroit Tigers Foundation three years ago to create the Victory for Veterans program, inviting selected veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan to watch a Verlander start from his suite at Comerica Park.

Last summer, Verlander committed $1 million to Wins for Warriors, a program designed to provide mental health support for veterans and their families with a focus on the Detroit and Richmond/Norfolk communities. During its first grant cycle, Wins for Warriors awarded $267,000 in funding to two best-in-class organizations: Give an Hour and The Mission Continues.

"I truly and honestly believe that this is an area that needs to have awareness," Verlander said. "It's starting to gain steam, but people don't realize how much it affects the veterans and their families, which is a big part of what I do. And I don't believe that any of us would be here playing this great game if it weren't for those great men and women. That's just my way to try to give back and help as much as I can."

Fans can vote at for one of the 30 club nominees beginning on Wednesday. Voting ends on Oct. 6, and the winner of the fan vote will receive a vote among those cast by the selection panel of dignitaries, which includes Commissioner Bud Selig; MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred; MLB goodwill ambassador and wife of Roberto Clemente, Vera Clemente; and representatives from Chevrolet, MLB Network,, ESPN, FOX Sports and TBS, among others. The winner will be announced during the World Series.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.
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