Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen were recently announced as finalists for the third annual NFL Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.
The Salute to Service Award winner will be recognized at the 3rd Annual NFL Honors awards show in New York City on Feb. 1, the night before Super Bowl XLVIII.Allen and Harbaugh were selected as finalists for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community.
“The Salute to Service Award provides a unique opportunity to recognize individuals who are going above and beyond to support military and their families,” said Don Clark, Assistant Vice President of Media and Sponsorship Marketing at USAA. “Coach Harbaugh and Jared Allen show an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community and their families. We are thrilled to highlight their work and inspire others to do the same.”
Allen makes homes accessible for veterans who return from war with debilitating injures with his Homes for Wounded Warriors Foundation. He builds, purchases or remodels homes to fit the new lifestyle a disabled soldier faces. In 2013, the organization gave five military families new homes. Allen created the Helping Heroes Gala, held annually around Veterans Day, to raise funds for the organization. Additionally, Allen helped bring members of the Minnesota National Guard to a Vikings practice. Guardsmen had the opportunity to meet players, receive autographs and take photos with the team. Allen surprised the Guardsmen with tickets to a Vikings game.
Harbaugh has demonstrated a passion for supporting military initiatives by taking part in the annual NFL-USO coaches’ tour of the Middle East in 2009. This included visiting numerous military bases, purchasing school supplies for children whose parents were serving in the military and putting care packages together for troops overseas. A Salute to Service Award finalist in 2011, Harbaugh has helped institute Military Appreciation Day, an annual event that takes place during Ravens training camp, and includes a visit by the team to Gettysburg, Pa. during offseason team activities to learn about the Civil War. Harbaugh invites wounded warriors as his guests to every Ravens home game and in 2012 he was presented with the Outstanding Civilian Service Award by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.
In November 2013, NFL clubs nominated players, alumni, coaches and personnel who demonstrate an exceptional effort to support the military. These submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges based on the positive effect of the individual’s efforts on the military community, the type of service conducted, the thoroughness of the program and level of commitment.