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 Texas Rangers include Rocky Bloom of Clarksville, TN, Zach Briseno of Fort Worth, TX, and Chance Nix of Sachse Texas. Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 30th.
The three military heroes will be honored in a pre-game ceremony prior to the Rangers game with the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, June 29 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
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.
Rocky Bloom served in the U.S. Navy for ten years and in the U.S. Army for four more. While on the USS Carl Vinson he received letters of commendation from the Admiral of the Pacific Fleet. On November 14, 2010, he saved the lives of several soldiers, securing an Afghan machine gun and preventing the enemy from overrunning his platoon's position. For his act of valor, he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star. He suffers from a traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and major depression. He has been working with SAFE: Soldiers and Families Embraced and will attend college this fall with the goal of becoming an advocate for disabled veterans.
Zach Briseno served in the United States Marines. In 2007 while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, his convoy was hit an IED. The explosion blew a hole in the floorboard beneath him, mangling his legs and right arm. He received a Purple Heart. While at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, he was visited by President George W. Bush, who showed Zach heartfelt gratitude for his sacrifice to his country. A fellow double amputee also helped Zach change his outlook on his situation while at the Naval Medical Center. He was also nominated for the American Patriot Award by Operation Military Embrace President Jerry Reed.
Husband, father, and eBook author Chance Nix fought for the U.S. Marines in the second Battle of Fallujah, driving the lead vehicle of the scout element for 506 convoys across Iraq. He discovered more than 30 IEDs and thus saved numerous lives. He was wounded in action and received a Purple Heart, a Combat Action Ribbon, two certificates of commendation, and several other honors. Honorably discharged in 2011, Chance now works as an EMT and pediatric worker in Sachse, Texas.
To assist in the selection process for the 90 finalists, a Guest Panel included 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.
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.