Today, the NFL and USAA, the official NFL Salute to Service partner, announced the 2022 nominees for the 12th annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen was selected as the team's nominee for the fourth straight season, making him one of just two players in the NFL to earn that distinction. The Salute to Service Award recognizes NFL players, coaches, staff and alumni who demonstrate commitment to honoring and supporting military and veteran communities, as nominated by NFL clubs.
"It's a tremendous honor to be nominated for this award once again," said Jensen. "I have such great respect and admiration for all of our brave service members and all of the branches of our military. We're afforded the liberties we have because of the courageous members of our armed forces, and I'm incredibly grateful to be able to receive this recognition on behalf of them."
For the first time in the history of the Salute to Service Award, fans will have a say in determining the winner. To see all the nominees and cast their vote, fans can visit NFL.com/SaluteFanVote from now until November 30. Finalists are scheduled to be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally in February during the week of Super Bowl LVII
In his Salute to Service efforts, Jensen prioritizes relationships, outreach programs and gameday initiatives. Jensen's grandfather, Keith Palmer, served in Korea and Vietnam as a member of the Army's 101st Airborne Division. Jensen's uncle followed Palmer's footsteps into the Army, and Jensen's adopted brother, Alec Hatfield, has served in the Marine Corps and completed tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Jensen has donated nearly $100,000 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation for his community ticket program "Jensen's G.I's," which provides memorable gameday experiences for military families. Benefitting organizations have included the USF Veteran Success Center, Wounded Warrior Project, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Liberty Manor for Veterans, USO Central Florida and the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, among others.
Jensen has also worked with the organization Southeastern Guide Dogs to provide a $75,000 donation to sponsor three service dogs that will provide companionship and daily assistance for military service members recovering from injury. Along with this, Jensen also visits local Veteran's Assistance hospitals and hosts zoom calls to support active-duty military families in an effort to give back to the local military community.
In addition, Jensen has developed a special bond with a young boy named Cooper, whose father was tragically killed in action before Cooper was born. Through the Tragedy Assistant Program for Survivors (TAPS), Jensen has stayed in contact with the family and for several years and honored Cooper and TAPS through the NFL's annual My Cause, My Cleats initiative, bringing awareness and support to Gold Star Families who are grieving the loss of a member in the armed forces.
Annually, Jensen has supported the Buccaneers' Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Awards, which honors military families from each branch of the armed forces. He has also visited MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa through the USO Central Florida, has helped promote fundraising efforts for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and helps lead the team's support for Military Day at Training Camp.
As the presenting sponsor of the Salute to Service Award, USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other financial services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the recipient's name to official aid societies representing all U.S. military branches. The NFL will match USAA's contribution by donating an additional $25,000 to the awardee's military or veteran charity of choice.
The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military and veteran community. Each year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor, empower, and connect with members of the military as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative. The league's military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events honoring and thanking veterans, active-duty service members and their families. The Buccaneers will showcase military appreciation tributes at Raymond James Stadium on November 6 when the team hosts the Los Angeles Rams for the Buccaneers' Salute to Service Game, presented by USAA.