Three World War II Vets, one of whom turned his native Navajo tongue into a secret weapon during the war. 20 Purple Hearts. A veteran who was given a three-percent chance to live. Another who was rescued from a body bag by a nurse. And an amputee who has completed 35 triathlons to date. These are just a few of the inspirational stories from the 90 finalists, announced today, in the Major League Baseball and 'PEOPLE' magazine "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and builds upon both the commitment of MLB and 'PEOPLE' magazine to honoring our country's heroes. Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to view the full list of finalists and to vote on their favorite stories through June 30th.
One winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week festivities and recognized during the pre-game ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16th on FOX. A "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in the July 22nd issue of 'PEOPLE,' which hits newsstands Friday, July 12th, the week of the MLB All-Star Game.
The 90 finalists include:
- A 23 year-old and a 92-year old, bookending World War II and Afghanistan
- 14 currently serving
- 41 who served in the Army, 19 Air Force members, 18 Marines, 14 Navy and one in the Coast Guard (some finalists served in multiple branches)
- 143 total awards received including one Medal of Honor, one Marine of the Year, 17 Purple Hearts and 13 Bronze stars
- 34 who have done tours in Afghanistan and 35 who have done tours in Iraq
- Three World War II Vets
- One gold medalist in the Paralympics
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.
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 greatest needs of returning American Veterans and their families 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.