The NFL and USAA, the league's Official Military Appreciation Sponsor, announced today Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson was selected as the winner of the fifth annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The announcement came live on NFL Network.
USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the winner's name to the official aid societies representing all five military branches.
A three-time Pro Bowler and four-time Buccaneers team captain, Jackson has embraced his role as a league ambassador for military appreciation. The proud son of parents with a combined 25 years of service in the Army, the self-proclaimed "military brat" has focused his charitable efforts on finding new and innovative ways to connect with those whose path he's walked. Jackson launched the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation on Veterans Day in 2012 to support military families by focusing on the educational, emotional and physical health of military children. This is the third year in a row the Buccaneers have nominated Jackson for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. He was the 2014 runner-up for the award.
In 2014, Jackson and his wife, Lindsey, took pen to paper for a unique and impactful project that would both serve as an outlet for the challenges Jackson faced as a military child as well as support the lives of a younger generation enduring the same experiences. Danny Dogtags: Dealing with Deployment, officially hit bookshelves in 2014 to rave reviews from children and families in Tampa Bay and beyond, and may serve as the first in a series of stories written by Jackson about the main character, Danny Dogtags, and lessons on embracing the military lifestyle.
One of Jackson's most popular initiatives is an event that showcases the softer side of the 6-5, 230-pound receiver. In July 2015, Jackson hosted the Second Annual Military Moms Baby Shower for 40 expecting or recently delivered military moms from MacDill Air Force Base and Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. For the second year in a row, Jackson and his wife surprised each woman with more than $1,000 in merchandise, including a stroller and car seat for each family, to help them care for their infant, and thousands of dollars in additional gifts and prizes were raffled off.
This past November, Jackson took on perhaps his biggest charitable challenge to date, as the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation hosted their inaugural Military Resource and Employment Symposium, presented by USAA, at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The one-day event provided veterans and military families with career opportunities, educational assistance, and resources necessary to aid their transition from military to civilian life. The event included a career fair, a resource fair, and speaking sessions from professionals in their field related to topics important to veterans and military members, providing more than 1,000 military members and their families with information on career opportunities and resources. Later in November, the foundation hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 50 military members who had a family member deployed or were otherwise unable to be with extended family during the holiday.
These types of initiatives stretch throughout the calendar year. In June 2015, Jackson once again welcomed 100 military children to One Buc Place for the third annual Youth in Action Camp; the Salute to Reading Program launched year three in 2015, inspiring local youths to achieve reading goals with the prize of Buccaneers facility tours and a year-end celebration hosted by Jackson; for the fourth year in a row, the "Jackson in Action" Front Row Fans section at Raymond James Stadium provided a special gameday experience for dozens of local military families; and the Salute to Scholars program added a scholarship in 2015 to award two $2,500 scholarships, one at Jackson's high school alma mater in Colorado Springs, CO and one in the Tampa Bay area, to a military dependent entering college.
In addition, the foundation's 2014 Back to School Supply Drop geared 150 children at MacDill Air Force Base with new backpacks full of school supplies; his 2014 Military Family Home Makeover provided the home of Staff Sergeant Jessica Fleurimond in Tampa with a beautiful interior redesign in time for Veterans' Day; dozens of children with a deployed parent joined Jackson at his Fall Festival for a fun-filled day of hayrides, animal encounters, games, and lunch at Old McMicky's Farm; and his annual Santa Social event offered a special holiday party for young military families, including an evening with Jackson and Santa, arts and crafts, holiday snacks, and gifts for the children.