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 Mets are Omar Navarro, Helen Fumo and Jeffrey Callaghan. 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.
Navarro, of Jersey City, New Jersey is dedicated to his country and community. A veteran of Operation New Dawn, Omar was tasked with training Iraqi Armed Forces in proper procedure. During one search of a Third-Country National, he confiscated a CD of US combat vehicle schematics, preventing its possible sale and potentially saving lives. Omar's awards include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 1 "M" Device, to name only a few. At home, Omar volunteers as a high school baseball coach. Additionally, each year he spends his summer volunteering as a counselor at the NJ National Guard Youth Camp, attended by children whose parents away on military service. He also gave generously of his time during and after Hurricane Sandy.
Fumo of Manor, Texas, has served her country, community, and family all of her life. The 91-year-old enlisted in the Woman's Army Corps (WAC) in 1943. She received training in Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina, before taking an overcrowded troop ship from Stockton, California, to the Philippines and finally to her permanent station in New Guinea. Helen worked in the mess hall and anyplace else she was needed until she was honorably discharged on November 5, 1945. Helen volunteered at St. May's Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, as a Sunday school teacher while her daughters were growing up. She was also a member of the Catholic Women's Club bowling team of Norwalk and of her local VFW. Her greatest service was as her role as babysitter to her four grandchildren.
Callaghan of Kings Park, New York, joined the NYPD in 1997 and then the FDNY in February 2001. He is now a Lieutenant in Brooklyn's 15th Division. Jeff joined the Navy in 1991, completing deployments to the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean Sea. He then entered the Navy Reserve for 18 years. On April 1st of this year, Jeff retired as a Senior Chief after 22 years of service. He's received many awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal and three Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medals, to name just a few. Jeff is the driving force of the E285/L142 T-shirts for Troops Care Package program. Over 7 years the program has sent over 1,000 care packages and 2,500 firehouse T-shirts to US service members around the globe. In 2010, he received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his efforts.
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.