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Salute to Service
Cheerleaders and Legends traveled to the Middle East and Africa with Armed Forces Entertainment to visit the troops and show appreciation for their sacrifices. Legends Christopher Myers, Jonathan Wells, and Kevin Williams, as well as eight Cheerleaders, attended. The group toured bases, met military leadership, visited with service members, and raised spirits in Djibouti, Doha, and Abu Dhabi, culminating with a Super Bowl LIII watch party at Al Dhafra.
The Houston Texans invited six members of the military and their guests to an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to see the nation's capital and enjoy special access at the Texans-Redskins game. The honorees were selected through a partnership with the USO. The group visited Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard; visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and other national monuments; and celebrated at a dinner held in their honor. On Sunday, the group enjoyed a pregame experience on the Texans sidelines, where they met players, Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair, and Texans president Jamey Rootes.
The Texans were the first team in the NFL to honor the armed forces with a dedicated Salute to Service game, starting a tradition that has been embraced throughout the league. At this year's game, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Michael Penn, served as the Homefield Advantage Captain; service members from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard led the team onto the field and held the Texas flag; members of all five branches of the military presented the colors; and the Texas A&M University Singing Cadets sang the anthem and performed at halftime. As the Salute to Service game sponsor, Bud Light bussed in troops from Joint Base San Antonio and recognized them on the video board.
During the week leading up to the Salute to Service game, the Texans hosted events to honor the armed forces. On Tuesday, the Texans held a Thanksgiving lunch for inpatients at the Michael E. DeBakey V.A. Medical Center. Players, Lady Texans, Ambassadors, and Cheerleaders served lunch to 200 veterans and visited patient rooms. On Friday, the Texans hosted a Family Tailgate for 150 members of the military, past and present, and their families. The event included Ambassadors, Cheerleaders, TORO, inflatables, food trucks, and more. After the activities, attendees were recognized at Texans practice, where they got to meet the team.
Army veteran Sergeant Roland Sengstock and his family received the thrill of a lifetime when they were surprised during a Texans home game in December with the news that they'd be receiving a new custom-built, mortgage-free home courtesy of the Texans and Operation FINALLY HOME. The Texans partner with Operation FINALLY HOME, a nonprofit that helps America's military heroes achieve the dream of home ownership, to give the gift of a new house to a deserving veteran each year. In March, the Texans helped break ground on the home with a summer move-in date expected.
At each Texans home game, a service member or veteran is recognized on the field for his or her service to our country in the Salute to American Heroes feature. Each honoree receives tickets to the game and a customized game ball presented in front of a spirited crowd at NRG Stadium.
Linebackers Brian Peters and Dylan Cole and Cheerleaders stopped by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Armed Forces Appreciation BBQ to visit with current and past military members to show their appreciation for their service.
Texans staff, Cheerleaders, and alumni Cheerleaders visited the Michael E. DeBakey V.A. Medical Center to see veterans who were being treated at the hospital. Visits were made for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day to deliver flowers, cards, and treats to show that the Texans care about and appreciate them and their families for the sacrifices they have made in service to the country.
The NFL Salute to Service Award is an annual distinction that recognizes excellence in appreciation of the military carried out by NFL coaches, players, and club staff. In 2018, the Texans nominated defensive end Christian Covington for the honor. Covington comes from a military family and has volunteered his time throughout his career to attend events supporting the military community, especially those that serve kids and families.
Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. The mission of the Veterans Crisis Line is to provide 24/7, world-class suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to Veterans, Service members, and their family members. The VCL can be reached via phone by dialing 1-800-273-8255, press 1, via text at 838255, and via online chat by visiting www.veteranscrisisline.net.