Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints Quarterback, says he’d “do anything” for veterans, explaining respect for the military is in his blood.
“I love our veterans,” says Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. “I’d do anything for them.” The 40-year-old NFL star is passionate about honoring veterans and members of the military. That commitment is in his blood. Both of his grandfathers served during World War II. One was a colonel in the Army, the other was a corporal in the Marines.
“I grew up with both of them talking about their military service, talking about what an honor it was to serve their country,” he says. “So, I’ve always had profound respect for the sacrifices that our veterans have made for us throughout the years.”
He continues, “I’ve always felt if sports had gone a different way for me, I would have wanted to serve my country as well in the military.”
Off the field
While the 2009 Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback, loves his work on the football field, he’s proud of the work he’s doing for the community, especially for veterans.
Over the years, Brees has participated in five USO tours visiting Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Turkey, Djibouti, Dubai, Okinawa and Guantanamo Bay.
“My USO trips were absolutely inspired by my respect for our military,” he says, noting how impressed he is by the sacrifices military members make on a daily basis, including long deployments of a year or more.
The father of four is humbled to be able to show support through these tours.
“The opportunity for someone like me or any other athlete or celebrity to have the opportunity to go and show our appreciation, by spending time with them, was something I felt very strongly about doing for them,” says Brees, an Austin, Texas native.
He laughs recalling how many football fans are in the military community.
“Everywhere we went – no matter where it was in the world from Okinawa, Japan to Djibouti, Africa to Baghdad to Kuwait, Afghanistan you name it – it seemed like there were so many people from the area where I grew up, or were Saints fans or certainly were fans of the game of football,” he says.
“Every time I look at our flag during the national anthem, I think about all those who’ve sacrificed so much for us to have the freedoms that we have,” says Brees, who was a 2016 nominee for the NFL’s year round “Salute to Service” campaign, which has donated over $34M to military non-profits since 2011.
In 2017, for the “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, which honors the charity of the player’s choice, Brees wore custom cleats honoring his grandfathers’ respective military service.
He recently recorded a PSA supporting the launch of the Louisiana “Veterans First Business Initiative,” program that promotes veteran-owned businesses in the state. He knows it’s important to provide as many resources as possible to help veterans and their families.
Brees and his wife are also supporters of the K9s for Warriors non-profit, which is the country’s largest provider of service dogs for disabled vets, including those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as Traumatic Brain injury.
“I can only imagine what that adjustment is like coming back into civilian life and especially from those suffering from injuries, both stuff you can see on the surface and those that you can’t,” he says. “Whatever we can do to help serve these men and women and to help their adjustment back into civilian life, and to provide them with the opportunities that they need to succeed throughout their military careers, I think is extremely vital.”