NEW YORK – Throughout November, all 32 NFL teams will participate in the NFL Salute to Service – which will feature special camouflage ribbons on end zone pylons and field goal posts, special Veteran’s’ Day coins used for the coin toss, and sideline personnel from coaches to cheerleaders wearing special military themed gear to be auctioned off with proceeds going to veterans groups. With the Department of Veteran’s Affairs swamped in hundreds of thousands of backlogged cases, sources are reporting that fleeting recognition during a sporting event will have to suffice when it comes to receiving benefits for the time being.
Former Army Ranger Nate Fogg, who served six tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, was on hand for the Seattle Seahawks game at the Atlanta Falcons. “I was really moved right before the game when everyone in the stands held up placards in unison that spelled out THANK YOU VETERANS on a red white and blue field,” he said. “I just wish that kind of precision could be used for something that I actually need. It’s been two years and I still don’t have clearance to see a doctor about my back.” Fogg was injured by a roadside bomb outside of Kandahar in 2011. His is one of the 228,000 claim forms that have been waiting more than a year to be processed.
At the New York Giants game in East Rutherford NJ, US Marine Sgt. Nyger Lannan joined several veterans from all branches of the military who were honored at halftime. According to Lannan, the real highlight was the free food from the concession stand he received after the tribute. Sgt. Lannan, like 170,000 other former service members, had their food stamp benefits reduced by the recent cuts to the SNAP program. “It was all the hot dogs I could eat. And they came pre-wrapped too, so you could jam a few in your coat pockets for later. Plus they had the mustard in the packets, not the pump. That’s pretty clutch for taking those puppies to go.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that when it is important for the NFL to integrate their product with the military. “When it comes to honoring the troops, we want to do our part. And our part is making sure our brand is as closely associated as possible with the goodwill that these brave men and women have sacrificed so much to earn. The National Football League – a business valued at over $35 billion – expects to donate roughly $800,000 to various charities as a result of its Salute to Service campaign.
Goodell also stated that if the Department of Veterans Affairs ever needed instruction in how to neglect the health and well-being of its members after they retire, the NFL has been perfecting the technique for decades.