We usually tend to take our rights and freedoms for granted; as if they were a given. I’ve come to believe, over time, that it’s not so much anyone’s fault but a result of the success of those that have given so much of themselves. Their success in keeping us free, demands that we step back and give proper thanks.
The comfort of knowing that here on this Fourth of July 2010, that we can be with our loved one’s, having our barbecue’s, drinking and laughing, is directly the result of America’s Soldiers who have sacrificed so that we may be free.
I wanted to share with all Mets fans something that made me more proud than ever to call myself a fan of the New York Mets. On June 23rd 2008, Major League Baseball announced an initiative called Welcome Back Veterans.
The sole purpose of this program was designed to address the mental health and job needs of our Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The program was founded by none other than Fred Wilpon, Chief Executive Officer and Owner of the New York Mets and a group of private citizens.
The program is supported by MLB charities, MLB Advanced Media and the McCormick Foundation. With over 1.7 million Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, many of these Veterans face serious challenges returning home to their families.
More than 300,000 suffer from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, drug abuse, and are a growing risk for suicide. Fred Wilpon along with Brigadier General David L. Grange, the then CEO of the McCormick Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing the ideals of a free, democratic society by investing in our children and communities, formed the Welcome Back Veterans program to assist our Veterans coming home.
If you’ve noticed that teams around MLB have been wearing the “Stars and Stripes” caps over the July 4th weekend. In fact MLB announced that the sales of the “Stars and Stripes” caps and apparel this 4th of July on MLB.com, have completely gone to support the Welcome Back Veterans program.
I find it a privilege and an honor to know that Fred Wilpon, through very little fanfare on his or the Mets part, has mobilized this effort. I had no idea, prior to writing this article that Fred Wilpon founded this program which has raised millions and brought awareness to the struggles many of our Veterans face in assimilating back to society.
Welcome Back Veterans has teamed with the University Hospitals of Cornell Medical Center in New York, the University of Michigan and Stanford University, which are on the cutting edge of treating Veterans with PTSD.
David Wright joined Fred Wilpon and General Grange on June 23rd 2008 to announce the initiative at MLB offices in Manhattan. David said it best:
“This is a cause that transcends everything, so I encourage baseball fans to join us over the 4th of July weekend and on September 11th in supporting Welcome Back Veterans. When it comes to supporting our Veterans, everyone in Major League Baseball is on the same team.”
Here is a link where you too can Welcome Home Veterans and support this Amazin cause and here’s to you Fred Wilpon for giving back to America’s Veterans. Quiet and classy.