Major League Baseball and 'PEOPLE' magazine today announced the 90 finalists, three per MLB Club, for the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and builds upon MLB and 'PEOPLE' magazine's commitment to honoring our country's heroes. The three finalists for the Cleveland Indians, nominated as Tribe fans, include Gary Myers, Raymond T. Matwich and Daniel McKee. Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com 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.
Myers is an eight-year Marine Corps combat veteran, thyroid cancer survivor and now is dedicated to helping fellow veterans. After serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he's studying to receive a social work degree do he can help veterans with PTSD and other issues. He also volunteers with Steel City Vets, Wounded Warriors and the local VFW. He also started a veterans club at Penn State Shenango and collected hundreds of items of clothing for homeless veterans across the country.
Raymond T. Matwich, a 92-year-old Warren native, received five Battle Stars and was discharged as a Corporal after World War II ended. During the war, he served a crucial role: guarding the door of the war room in which Operation Dragoon - the invasion of south France - was drawn up. He's now a life-time member of the American Legion and was active in the community as a baseball coach for all ages for many years.
Daniel McKee served 23 years in the Navy before retiring in 2010. Deployed eight times, McKee won numerous medals and awards and has worked as an instructor for four years at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, teaching recruits shipboard firefighting and damage control procedures. Today, McKee is a volunteer at the Naval Station Great Lakes and a junior varsity baseball coach.
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 needs of veterans 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.