Major League Baseball and PEOPLE magazine today announced the 30 winners of the “Tribute for Heroes” campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and which builds upon both organizations’ commitment to honoring our country’s heroes. Cory Gritter has been selected by fans to represent the Detroit Tigers. Michigan native, Cory Gritter, of Rockville, Maryland, was an accomplished athlete in high school, but passed up his dream of playing collegiate soccer to join the Marine Corps. He even achieved his dream of becoming a Marine Scout Sniper. During an early mission in Afghanistan, Cory suffered significant shrapnel wounds to his leg, torso, hand, and shoulder caused by an IED explosion. After three years recovering at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, he was recently discharged and founded a cyber security company to help transitioning veterans like him find careers. Despite his struggles, he has the desire to help others. He has volunteered with Toys for Tots and with his church, helping run activities for children with autism. Cory also recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon to raise money for Hire our Heroes.
Gritter will join one winner representing each of the 30 MLB Clubs to be included in All-Star Week festivities (private tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a VIP reception on the Intrepid, All-Star Red Carpet Show Presented by Chevrolet, Chevrolet Home Run Derby). The winners also will attend and be honored during the pre-game ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field July 16th on FOX beginning at 7:30 pm ET (4:30 pm PT).
Fans nationwide cast their votes at TributeForHeroes.com to select 30 winners from a pool of 90 finalists.
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, who were then voted on by fans to select the 30 winners.
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.