New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady usually focuses on blitz packages and football inflation rates, but in coming months he also could be the go-to expert on Bronze Stars and post-military employment numbers.
On Tuesday, officials from the veterans advocacy group Got Your 6 announced a new partnership with the NFL Players Association, designed to use the limelight of America's most popular sport to highlight the lives and challenges of America's returning war heroes.
"Simply saying 'thank you' is not enough to recognize the sacrifices our country's veterans have made through their service," NFLPA President Eric Winston said in a statement. "This partnership gives the players of the NFL the platform to help change the dialogue and truly help those who have protected our freedoms."
Specific events and outreach programs will be rolled out in the months to come. Rob Gordon, president of Be The Change Inc., the parent organization of Got Your 6, said the efforts will focus on drawing attention to veteran reintegration and working to "ensure veterans are seen as the civic assets that they are."
In the past, Got Your 6 officials have used partnerships within the entertainment industry to push for more accurate, less stereotypical portrayals of veterans in movies and television shows.
Gordon said the new work will include interactions between NFL players, veterans and fans. It will also include a push for veterans to "continue their service and be the leaders and civic assets they were trained to be."
A report released by the group in April found higher rates of volunteer work and civic engagement among veterans than peers without military experience, but also lingering public misperceptions of veterans as isolated or detached from their civilian neighbors.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.