The veterans will converge on Citi Field for the All-Star Game on July 16. A "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in an issue of People Magazine, which hits newsstands the week of the Midsummer Classic.
Cherry earned three Purple Hearts, five Air Medals and the Silver Star during a military career that included the loss of his leg while saving three soldiers and a medic while under heavy fire in Vietnam. He also served as the San Francisco Veterans Medical Center chaplain for 25 years, working with veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Stockton, Calif., native Patino began a 20-year career in the Navy at 19. He served with distinction before retiring in 2007, earning five Navy achievement medals and other awards. He was on deployment with the USS Enterprise on 9/11, and his carrier task force launched the first strikes against the Taliban on Oct. 7, 2001.
Townsend is currently completing his law degree at the University of San Francisco after completing his service in the U.S. Air Force. He deployed as a forward air controller to Afghanistan and Mosul and Ramadi, Iraq, during his six years of active-duty service, receiving numerous awards in the process.
A guest panel of retired Generals Peter W. Chiarelli and John M. Keane will be joined by MLB standouts Justin Verlander, Nick Swisher, Barry Zito, Jonny Gomes, Brad Ziegler, Chase Headley and Craig Stammen, along with MLB and People Magazine, in the selection process for the 90 finalists.
"PEOPLE First: Help America's Veterans" is a feature of People Magazine's 2013 charity initiative. Welcome Back Veterans funds programs at Duke University, the University of Michigan, UCLA and the Boston Red Sox' Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston, among other institutions developing new programs to improve the quality and amount of access to PTSD and TBI treatment for veterans.
Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 30.
Jane Lee is a reporter and Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.