The Los Angeles Dodgers hosted approximately 500 active-duty service members and veterans of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Force and their families on Friday, November 11, at Dodger Stadium for a Veterans Day event.
“We want you to know how much we love you,” Dodgers vice president of external affairs and community relations Naomi Rodriguez told the group. “On behalf of our owners, the front office, all of our players, we thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and today we are going to give you an unbelievable experience.”
The attendees participated in a rotation of activities, including batting practice and catch on the field, photo opportunities with the 2020 World Series trophy and lunch. As part of the event, Austin Barnes and Max Muncy partook in a question and answer session hosted by Kirsten Watson.
“I said it a couple of times today, but the Dodgers, the players, the fans, the city, we are all one big family, and these are the guys that protect the family,” Muncy told DodgerBlue.com. “So I think it’s really cool that we give them the chance to do something special like this.”
In addition, Lance Corporal Julia Hamon of the United States Marine Corps from the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band sang the National Anthem and former players Billy Ashley and Ken Landreaux attended to give pointers during batting practice.
The event was sponsored by the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and their Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN).
“The Department of Mental Health is proud to partner with the L.A. Dodgers to honor and show appreciation for our U.S. Veterans during a day of enjoyment at the ballpark,” La Tina Jackson, Deputy Director, L.A. County Department of Mental Health said.
“DMH is committed to providing mental health services and connections to our service men, women and families through our Veterans Peer Access Network. We are particularly grateful for veterans who have chosen to continue their mission through the VPAN program by serving as Battle Buddies to their fellow service members who are indeed breaking down barriers, building bridges, and saving lives.”
The Dodgers have continuously held Veterans Day events throughout the years. Although the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prevented them from hosting the event in 2020, they continued it in 2021 with a more limited capacity before returning to a full-size event this year.
Veterans support line and services
During the introductions, Jackson shared some of the services the DMH offers for veterans. “We offer lots of services, it’s not unique to mental health,” Jackson said.
“But if you have something that you want to talk about or you need some support, you’re there talking to other veterans or family members that can relate to what you’re going through. So I highly encourage you to take advantage of that.”
The DMH has a support line for veterans that operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at (800) 854-7771 by using option 3. The line is fully staffed by veterans and veteran family members. “It’s there for you to just talk, to have some support from those who get it, and to connect you to whatever it is that you might need,” Jackson said.
There is also a newly-established 988 line, and by hitting option 1, it will connect people to mental health services that are specific to veterans.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!