Major League Baseball and PEOPLE magazine announced the 30 winners of the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and which builds upon both organizations' commitment to honoring our country's heroes. Jeffrey Mittman has been selected by fans to represent the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On July 7, 2005, Mittman, a New Palestine, Indiana native, was serving as an advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior when a roadside bomb explosion left Jeff blind; without a nose, lips, or teeth; and severely damaged his right arm. He has endured dozens of surgeries to reconstruct his facial features and repair his injuries. He was awarded three Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge (2nd Award) among others. Mittman is a requested speaker nationwide, sharing lessons he has learned from his experiences. He demonstrates that traumatic events may shape but don't have to determine a life's course. He inspires people to provide support for disabled veterans through volunteer, business, and employment opportunities. He has received awards from the American Foundation for the Blind and Lighthouse International and serves on the Board of two separate not-for-profits.
Jeffrey will join one winner representing each of the 30 MLB Clubs to be included in All-Star Week festivities (private tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a VIP reception on the Intrepid, All-Star Red Carpet Show Presented by Chevrolet, Chevrolet Home Run Derby). The winners also will attend and be honored during the pre-game ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field July 16th on FOX beginning at 7:30 pm ET (4:30 pm PT).
Fans nationwide cast their votes at TributeForHeroes.com to select 30 winners from a pool of 90 finalists.
Along with MLB and PEOPLE, a guest panel including General Peter W. Chiarelli (retired) and General John M. "Jack" Keane (retired), alongside MLB players Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians, Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants, Jonny Gomes of the Boston Red Sox, Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres and Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals assisted in the selection process for the 90 finalists, who were then voted on by fans to select the 30 winners.
The "Tribute For Heroes" campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans (welcomebackveterans.org, powered by MLB.com), an initiative of Major League Baseball and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service. Major League Baseball has committed more than $23 million for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide 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' 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.
Currently, 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 Boston 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.