New York Jets
New York Jets

The New York Jets have spent the week giving back to military personnel, as the team takes part in the league-wide Salute to Service initiative.

Geoff Magliocchetti

FLORHAM PARK, NEW JERSEY—While prepping for a Sunday showdown against the Buffalo Bills (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS), the New York Jets have lent a strong hand to local veterans.

This week marks the Jets’ Salute to Service Week, part of the NFL Salute to Service initiative that is going on through Nov. 19.

The week began with a flag football game at MetLife Stadium, as servicemen and women from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Trenton, NJ partook in a good-natured showdown. Jets players, such as quarterback Josh McCown, receivers Andre Roberts and Rishard Matthews, and linebacker Darron Lee were also on hand, coaching the respective teams and surprising the military members with their own custom-made Salute to Service jerseys, which they in competition.

This marks the eighth military flag football game hosted by the Jets, with previous matchups taking place on military bases around the world.

(Photo: Courtesy of New York Jets)

Other events during the week included a special invitation to a Gold Star family on Friday, in which a family who lost a member in service was invited to Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park to watch practice.

The family invited was the Strohmeier family of Carteret, NJ, who lost patriarch Scott in 2011 to a combat-related illness. Scott’s widow Mina, an Army veteran of two decades, and teenage daughters Samantha and Brie were presented with a $50,000 scholarship. Mina, Samantha, and Brie would later help break the team down to end practice.

Saturday’s walk-through practice will invite 150 military members to Florham Park, followed by a meet-and-greet. Previously, Jets staff met with other Gold Star families on Thursday to send Jets-themed care packages to military bases to Turkey and Afghanistan.

All throughout the week, Jets plays have worn special Salute to Service practice jerseys, in which their numbers have been outfitted with military camouflage. The jerseys will be auctioned off on NFL Auction, with proceeds going towards the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Smart Home Program.

The foundation, which builds mortgage-free smart homes for catastrophically injured service members, is named after Stephen Siller, a Brooklyn firefighter who partook in the rescue efforts during the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Siller passed away in the attack on the Twin Towers, but his legacy of caring and selflessness lives on through the foundation, which is named after Siller racing through the shutdown Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on foot to get to Ground Zero.

“The generosity of New York Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson has made a remarkable difference in the lives of our injured service members,” says Tunnel to Towers’ official website on their partnership with the Jets. “Mr. Johnson and the Jets have been strong advocates for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation by supporting the construction of four smart homes, thus far, for our injured service members.”

The festivities conclude on Sunday, as military personnel will be on hand throughout the game. Rally towels, courtesy of sponsor M&T Bank, will be distributed to fans entering at the gate, and military personnel past and present and Gold and Blue Star families will hold the American flag during the national anthem, which will be performed by the West Point Quartet.

The NFL’s Salute to Service initiative seeks to honor, empower, and connect veterans and active military members. Through November 19, the league will make a $5 donation for use of the Twitter hashtag “#SaluteToService”, an outreach that has raised over $1 million thus far.

For more on the NFL’s Salute to Service program, visit their website.

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