Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen is no stranger to the military community having been nominated for the Bucs' Salute to Service Award three years in a row now. His grandfather, Keith Palmer, served in Vietnam and Korea as a member of the Army's 101st Airborne Division. Jensen's uncle followed his footsteps into the Army, and Jensen's adopted brother, Alec Hatfield has served in the Marine Corps – having completed tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now, he is once again carrying his military ties, or laces if you will, to his cleats for the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats initiative.
Jensen will be representing Southeastern Guide Dogs as his chosen charitable organization, raising awareness for their mission to transform lives by creating and nurturing extraordinary partnerships between people and dogs. They breed, raise, and train elite guide dogs, service dogs, and skilled companion dogs and provide life-changing services for people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges.
Logos and graphics on cleats are just the tip of the iceberg in Jensen's involvement with the organization. Over the past year, Jensen found a new and unique way to make an impact: he provided a $25,000 donation to sponsor a service dog for a veteran – lending support that will provide companionship and daily assistance for a military service member recovering from injury.
"The impact that the military has had on my life, from family and friends joining the military, and the ability to give back to service members who have sacrificed so much for me and the rest of the country is an honor," said Jensen.
This effort, along with visiting local Veteran's Assistance hospitals and hosting zoom calls to support active-duty military families, is another example of the way the Bucs' center continues to give back to the local military community.
In years past, Jensen has represented TAPS, or the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors on his cleats, another military initiative that aids the families of service members killed in action.
Buccaneers players are representing more than 50 causes this year. It's the league's sixth consecutive season raising awareness for player-chosen non-profit organizations through My Cause, My Cleats and all teams will be participating in Week 13. Players will then have the choice to auction their cleats off in a fundraising effort for their individual causes. Fans can bid on their favorite participating player's cleats here once the auction is live.