T Jared Veldheer and DE Mason Brodine spend time with the veterans. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Recently, Raiders T Jared Veldheer and DE Mason Brodine visited the heroes of our nation as they visited the Spinal Cord and Poly Trauma Unit at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, Calif. The two players arrived at the facility where they were greeted by the veterans and staff. The players and veterans enjoyed the lunch hour as they discussed a range of topics from the Raiders upcoming game to the players' experiences in the NFL.
The veterans in the Spinal Cord and Poly Trauma Unit suffer from some of the most extreme combat. Marine Corporal Jason Poole was a national hero who was recognized by the New York Times after he suffered from a severe road side bomb injury.
The injury forced him to endure multiple surgeries and facial reconstruction that included over 100 titanium screws and plates according to the New York Times article. Most of the patients the players visited were between the ages of 20 and 40 years old and were former athletes and even football players. Poole, a former high school football player, talked with the Raider players about his football days in high school and graciously thanked them for their visit.
Veldheer commented on the spirit of the veterans, "It was funny, because they couldn't say thanks enough to us for coming to see them. It felt funny inside, because we are the ones who are so thankful for them," said Veldheer. "We are lucky enough to be in this position and it's all because of the work they've done."
William Ball, the event coordinator, explained how important it was to the veterans to have the players come visit them, "It's good for them to know that there are people in the community who respect them and want to come see them. The young players we have today are showing a lot of respect for individuals their age who have really sacrificed their whole life being in this situation. These guys all love football and when I told them the players were coming there was a buzz in the unit and even with all our staff."
Veldheer had some personal connection to the day's event as he never got to meet his grandfather who lost his life in World War II. He was more than happy to attend the event to show his support to our nation's heroes and pay a respect to his grandfather.
"It was great being able to meet guys who have put their life on the line to make it so everyone in the United States can do what they do," said Veldheer. "We wouldn't be able to play football if it wasn't for them so it is only right that we come out and give our thanks to them."
Brodine felt that being a professional athlete means it is more than necessary to connect with the community. "It's very important for us to get out there and show them that we appreciate what they do," said Brodine. "It was a great honor for us to even be able to meet these people today. "
The Oakland Raiders players were inspired by the day's event as they were reminded of the hardships our veterans face in order to protect our country. The veterans were so thankful that the players came to show their support and how much they truly care.