WR Glenn Martinez (center) enjoyed his time with soldiers from the USO Wounded Warriors
On Sunday at Reliant Stadium, the Texans will honor the men and women of the armed forces with a "Salute to the Military," hosting a variety of promotions and ceremonies on gameday. Mid-week, the club welcomed the USO Wounded Warriors to Texans headquarters.
On Tuesday, 30 wounded soldiers from the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio were treated to a field day and a tour of the Texans' facilities. Wedneday, the same group attended practice, then enjoyed a BBQ feast cooked up on-site by Pitts and Spitts in Budweiser Plaza on the south end of Reliant Stadium.
Mingling with the players on Tuesday was a special treat.
"This is their first excursion, for most of them, outside the confines of a military hospital," Lt. Colonel Susie Barlow, director of USO Houston, said. "It shows Texas hospitality, and Texans hospitality, (and it's) second to none. They have treated us like kings and queens, and the soldiers are all just in awe.
"They say it's the best day they've had that they can remember in a long time. We are just so thankful about all of it."
At the field day, the soldiers were able to go through practice drills, throw and kick footballs and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with left guard Kasey Studdard, kicker Kris Brown, center Chris Myers and wide receiver Glenn Martinez.
And the soldiers weren't the only ones having a great time.
"It's fun," Myers said of the experience. "These guys come out here just to get their minds off of what they're doing every single day. They're out there protecting us and doing what they need to do to help us as a country. Any time we can help pay them back for what they do for us, it's a fun time."
Studdard agreed with Myers, wearing a smile on his bearded face the entire time he was with the troops.
"It's awesome," Studdard said. "To come out here with some of the veterans, some people that have served our country, it's not much, but it's the least we can do. To just have them out here, talk to them, throw them some balls, take them through some drills, it's a great thing."
Damon Williams, a Sergeant 1st Class in the U.S. Army enjoyed the experience, especially the throwing drill he went through with Myers. Williams zipped spiral after spiral to the center, and both laughed throughout.
"Words can't express it," said Williams, who is rehabbing a broken ankle. "I'm having a great time. I've been smiling since I got here. This is excellent. If my soldiers saw what I was doing right now, they'd kill me!"
Myers laughed when recounting his time with Williams, joking that the Sergeant was "chucking the ball harder than Matt (Schaub) does on Sundays."
For Martinez, whose father was in the Army, Tuesday's field day was extra-meaningful.
"My father was gone a lot of the time, and I know what these guys go through with the family members at home waiting on them," Martinez said. "It's kind of hard for some people, but I know what those families go through. It's just good to finally give back to somebody like that."
Myers, who broke a sweat working out with the soldiers, put things in perspective when recounting the afternoon.
"They've gone through some tough times with their injuries, and they come out here to have fun with us," Myers said. "With the smiles on some of their faces and some of their kids being out here, it just makes you feel good."
Barlow about raved the experience as well, enthusiastically describing how she and the rest of the soldiers were received by the Texans. Each player thanked the veterans before the field day began and called the soldiers their "true heroes."
"That warms our hearts to hear that because sometimes we throw around the word hero, but I have to say for the Texans, right back at them," Barlow said. "They are heroes, they're America, they're what we think about when we're deployed overseas. So it's great to come and meet some of your game day heroes face-to-face. We couldn't have asked for more."