Raven’s Mark Andrews and USAA bring a Vietnam Veteran to the Super Bowl
USAA and the Baltimore Ravens' Mark Andrews are making a dream come true in sending one Vietnam Veteran and his wife to the Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona.
WATM caught up with Andrews to discuss why this opportunity is so important to him. "To hear his story, what he's been through, serving for 12 years and his journey in Vietnam, it's awesome. I'm very excited to be here, it means a lot. For me to be able to team up with USAA and give back, especially to someone who protects this country and serve, it's just a blessing to be here. And more than anything, getting to meet Johnny as a human being is just incredible. This is one of the most true things I could do... all USAA does to give back, this partnership is just amazing."
Velasquez served for 12 years in the Army, which included two tours of duty in Vietnam and two tours in Germany. His service earned him the Air Medal, Army Commendation, four Purple Hearts and Silver Star.
Velasquez, 80, learned about the opportunity through a "fake meeting." Velasquez shared, "I was told by the 101st Airborne Division I was needed for a meeting. I showed up and then I was told I was going to the Super Bowl. I'm honored and humbled. This opportunity here, being invited as a veteran ... I am grateful to represent all of the veterans who couldn't be here."
Since 2012, USAA has partnered with the NFL for the Salute to Service initiative. Salute to Service is the NFL’s year-round commitment to Honor, Empower, and Connect with our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families. It is grounded in deep partnerships with military and veteran support organizations. Since 2017, USAA has partnered with NFL players to send veterans to the Super Bowl. USAA CEO Wayne Peacock said, "Eight of our great veterans are going to get to go to the game this year because of these incredible football players. There are so many parallels - commitment, willingness to be about team - it's about military service and the NFL. It's really a transition in what hero status is about."
If you're in Phoenix, don't miss the USAA Salute to Service Lounge. Sponsored by USAA, the 2023 Salute to Service Lounge is the ultimate VIP ticket within the Super Bowl Experience. With exclusive access to coaches, players and NFL legends, the lounge is open to all active duty, veterans, and military family members on-site at the Phoenix Convention Center. NFL greats will offer Q&A sessions, pose for photos and sign autographs in the Lounge. As an added bonus for lounge-goers, the team from We Are The Mighty will be there as well, conducting interviews and doing what we love to do the most: celebrate your service through storytelling. Learn more here.