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 Oakland A's include Corbin Cherry, Jose Patino and Vincent Townsend. Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 30.
One winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week festivities and recognized during the pregame ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16 on FOX. A "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in the July 22 issue of 'PEOPLE,' which hits newsstands Friday, July 12, the week of the MLB All-Star Game.
Cherry lost his leg saving three soldiers and a medic while under heavy fire in Vietnam. He earned three Purple Hearts, five Air Medals, and the Silver Star, among other awards. As Chief of Chaplains for the VA under President Carter, Corbin oversaw 1,500 chaplains in 50 states and Puerto Rico. He also served for 25 years as the San Francisco Veterans Medical Center chaplain, working with vets suffering from PTSD. In 2004, Corbin played golf on 165 of 166 days in 48 states to raise awareness for disabled people and vets in sports. And in 2005 he started a wheelchair foundation for disabled children in Vietnam, where many have been wounded by landmines from various wars over the years. He has furnished over 1,000 wheelchairs and sponsored more than 60 surgeries and artificial limbs. He is from Hertford, N.C.
Patino, from Stockton, Calif., enlisted in the Navy at 19. As the son of immigrants, Jose served with distinction during his 20-year career. Before retiring in 2007, he earned numerous awards, including five Navy achievement medals. Jose was on deployment with the USS Enterprise on 9/11; his carrier task force launched the first strikes against the Taliban on October 7, 2001. He deployed to Iraq in 2003. In May of 2005, Jose suffered a heart attack and days later suffered a second. After several hospitalizations and three heart surgeries, he continued his military service until his retirement, at which time he received a Letter of Commendation from President Bush for his exemplary military service record.
After completing his service in the U.S. Air Force, Townsend used the GI Bill to complete his undergraduate education, with honors. He is now completing his law degree at the University of San Francisco, and this summer will devote himself to public service as a legal extern to judges of the California Public Utilities Commission. During six years of active-duty service, he deployed as a forward air controller to Afghanistan and Mosul and Ramadi, Iraq, receiving many merits and awards. In Iraq, he coordinated a program, personally delivering toys, medical provisions, and daily necessities to Iraqi families. At home, he has worked with the California Prison Focus to link prisoners with legal and medical resources. Volunteering with Students Rising Above, he assists the organization in helping underprivileged high school students to get to and through college. Vincent also mentors and works with children of incarcerated parents through the OreMi Program in Oakland. He resides in El Cerrito, Calif.
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
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.