Veterans Day is a time to reflect on and appreciate the brave men and women who have served the United States in the armed forces. MLB has a long history of supporting the military, and below is a look at examples of our present-day support.
Each season, Major League Baseball and our clubs proudly support and recognize the men and women who serve our country.
ARMED FORCES DAY
• In 2021, MLB honored military members and their families throughout the weekend of Armed Forces Day, which was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1949. Armed Forces Day is traditionally celebrated on the third Saturday of May each year, which fell on May 15, 2021.
• On this day when citizens unite and honor military heroes for their patriotic service in support of the U.S., MLB players and club personnel wore camouflage-designed caps with their uniforms, as well as optional camo-themed socks. Additionally, a jersey patch featuring the stars & stripes silhouetted batter was placed on the left chest. The right side of the caps featured a five-starred emblem to represent the five branches of the U.S military. The Toronto Blue Jays wore a patch with four maple leaves on the right side of their caps to signify the four branches of the Canadian military.
• MLB donated 100% of its licensed uniform royalties from Armed Forces Day to MLB Charities to be used to support programs for service members, veterans and military families.
• The Armed Forces Day logo also appeared on the bases at each ballpark, and the official dugout lineup cards featured the symbolic ribbon to support the initiative.
• MLB annually donates 100% of league royalties from the sales of specialty uniforms and caps worn on military holidays to various military- and veteran-related charities.
• Royalties collected from Memorial Day 2019 were donated to organizations that directly support children and families grieving the loss of a military loved one, specifically to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and Folds of Honor Foundation.
• A previous partnership between Major League Baseball and the McCormick Foundation, the Welcome Back Veterans (WBV) initiative awarded grants totaling more than $30 million to support returning service members, veterans and their families, from 2008-2018. The initiative began as a means of support for nonprofits targeting veterans' greatest needs, including mental health as well as job training & placement. Funding was raised via donation of licensed royalties, MLB direct donations, McCormick Foundation matching funds, and additional donations from stakeholders. While funding for the initiative has ended, the success of the programs serves as a model for other organizations seeking to improve the lives of veterans and their families.
• Starting in 2010, WBV funds began supporting a national network of Centers of Excellence to provide the best care to veterans while also funding groundbreaking research for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
• Centers of Excellence are located at internationally recognized, university-based medical centers across the country, including treatment centers where evidence-based therapies are being delivered directly to veterans and their families, family and peer-to-peer-based programs connect those in need to resources, and training initiatives focus on enhancing community based capacity to serve the population. Funded sites include:
• University of Michigan Depression Center, Mass General Hospital (Boston), Emory (Atlanta), UCLA, Duke University, Rush University Medical Center (Chicago), and New York University Langone Medical Center.
• More than 10,000 individuals were served since the support from WBV has been established at these facilities.
• These grantees also provided training to close to 30,000 individuals to help better prepare additional organizations to better serve military members and their families.
• Additional funding via WBV has supported active duty service members, veterans and military families programming around mental health, education and employment (e.g., Project Return to Work, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, National Veterans Business Development Corporation) and evaluation of programming.
• These efforts are not inclusive of the annual and, oftentimes, daily efforts by MLB clubs to welcome and recognize local active service members, veterans or military families at their ballparks.
• Additionally, MLB sponsors, including GEICO, have specific MLB-related programs designed to recognize and support service members, veterans and military families.
• The PALS for Patriots program, in partnership with Patient AirLift Services, provides morale-boosting trips to Major League Baseball games. Launched in 2013, Major League Baseball annually donates tickets, lodging and meals for wounded veterans to attend baseball games through the program, including the postseason and World Series. Patient AirLift Services arranges volunteer pilots to fly the veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and other military hospitals, to the games in several Major League cities each year.
• GEICO Seats for Service recognizes deserving service members with special seats at MLB stadiums across the country. Through the program, Major League Baseball and GEICO partnered to provide a ballpark experience for active duty/retired service members and military families, each week at ballparks during the regular season. Invited military (active duty, reservists, retirees) received tickets to an MLB game and were featured across GEICO and MLB media (e.g., social channels, MLB Network). Seats have also been included for the All-Star Game, World Series and other specialty games
On Memorial Day, our game observes a solemn pause -- through our league-wide participation in the National Moment of Remembrance -- to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in losing their lives during service to our country.
CHARITABLE SUPPORT & PARTNERSHIPS
MLB has donated to a number of nonprofit organizations focused on transition services, systems navigation, and general support for military veterans and their families, including the following:
• Code of Support Foundation, The Mission Continues and American Corporate Partners, with services ranging from career, personal and network development, in addition to fulfilling general family needs, caregiving and community outreach.
• Code of Support Foundation: The grant supports PATRIOTlink, a search engine dedicated to connecting service members, veterans, caregivers and their families to the resources they have earned through their service and sacrifice. Funding also provides for front-line Case Coordination services to link active duty military and veteran families in need to peer navigators trained to unlock benefits and services. Since 2018 with leading support from MLB, PATRIOTlink has grown to provide nearly 6,000 resources to more than 17,000 users annually. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Code of Support has experienced a 200% increase in requests for case coordination assistance and has added thousands of new resources related to unemployment, financial and food insecurity, social connectivity, and virtual mental health support.
• The Mission Continues: The nonprofit is dedicated to bringing together veterans and innovative community organizations to create transformational change in under-resourced communities across the country. Through unique service opportunities and leadership programs in 50-plus cities, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate to life after their military careers, while also making long-term, sustainable impact nationwide.
• The grants will also support American Corporate Partners, which helps returning veterans find their next careers through one-on-one mentoring, networking and online career advice. More than 20,000 veterans have participated in ACP's programs since its founding in 2008. As a partner, MLB will continue to engage front-office employees in ACP's mentoring program, with employees from the Commissioner's Office and MLB Network pairing with veteran mentees for a year-long commitment to advance the veteran's goals for professional development and career planning. Since 2019, nearly 75 MLB employees have participated in this program.
• Since 2019, MLB and Club employees have mentored more than 200 veterans.
• Funds have also been distributed by MLB Clubs to local military-focused community organizations as part of the Military Community Grants program. In total, MLB has committed more than $1 million to military-related causes through 2021.
• From 2018-2020, the Commissioner's Office distributed grant funding to MLB Clubs in 2020 to support local nonprofit organizations through the "Military Community Grants" program. In its third year and with a total investment of more than $1.3 million, localized support of the military by each club through this program has been realized through charitable grants for events and programs that benefit service members, veterans and military families. MLB directed clubs to focus on one or more of the following pillars: quality of life (morale, welfare and recreation), mental health & wellness and transition services.
• In November 2020, Major League Baseball announced a financial grant to Sesame Workshop in support of "Sesame Street for Military Families," which was established to support military and veteran families with young children through all the milestones of their lives, including experiences and transitions unique to military life.
• With the funds, Sesame Workshop expanded their resource hub and also built new materials under its COVID-response "Caring For Each Other" umbrella to uniquely address the military population.
• Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, which serves children in 150 countries with research-based media content, social impact programs and formal education outreach.