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 Milwaukee Brewers include Dan Buttery, Brandon Nontelle and Noel Reeson. 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.
Buttery, a native of Milwaukee, served in the United States Army. He commanded a combat engineer company that conducted 300 successful missions in Iraq from May 2003 to April 2004. The injuries he sustained in the line of duty there eventually ended his military services. Today, Buttery's personal mission is supporting veterans and their families. In addition to working full-time, he is President of the Board at Fisher House Wisconsin. The Fisher House Foundation provides free housing for military and veteran family members whose loved ones are receiving medical treatment. Buttery devotes himself to bringing the first Fisher House to Wisconsin, the construction of which is slated for fall 2013.
Nontelle, a native of Altus, Oklahoma, has served as a combat airlift crew member with the United States Air Force. He has participated in dangerous operations all over the world, including a search and rescue effort in Antarctica. During many Afghan missions, his crew flew treacherously close to the ground to drop supplies to bases throughout the country. Nontelle has been awarded six Air Medals for combat missions, an Aerial Achievement Medal, and a Humanitarian Medal, among many other awards. He is a program director for ASPIRE, an after-school study program for at-risk kids in Altus, Oklahoma. In addition, he helped organize a Habitat for Humanity event and participates in numerous food drives.
Reeson, who is from Hortonville, Wisconsin, is a member of the U.S. Army. She spent a four-year enlistment in the Navy on the USS Bataan. While at sea, her older brother died. She had previously lost her older sister and was offered a hardship discharge, which she declined. Feeling she could do more, Reeson enlisted in the Army to serve in Iraq with the 1st Cavalry and achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. She incurred a deployment-related injury and went on to use her benefits to return to school, where she earned her degree as an agriculture equipment technician. She is a member of the VFW and American Legion.
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.