Jared Allen, Vincent Jackson named Salute to Service Award Finalists

The NFL and USAA, the league's Official Military Appreciation Sponsor, announced Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson as the two finalists for the fourth annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.

Allen and Jackson were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. The Salute to Service Award honoree will be recognized at the "4th Annual NFL Honors" awards show in Arizona on NBC on Jan. 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX.

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 honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches.

"Since joining the NFL to launch Salute to Service in 2011, USAA has been proud to recognize leaders in the NFL community who honor the service and sacrifice of our nation's military," said Don Clark, assistant vice president of media and sponsorship marketing at USAA. "Jared Allen and Vincent Jackson have not only supported military and their families for years through their respective foundations, but they inspired so many others to join their efforts. Either finalist is worthy of this year's Salute to Service Award presented by USAA."

Making a difference in military members' lives with his Homes for Wounded Warriors Foundation (JAH4WW), five-time Pro Bowler Allen makes homes accessible for veterans who return from war with debilitating injures. He builds, purchases or remodels homes to fit the new lifestyle a disabled military member faces. Since the organizations inception in 2009, JAH4WW has raised more than $3.5 million with the goal of donating 10 homes a year to wounded warriors.

"It's an honor to be considered for such an award that encourages people to support the men and women who serve this great country," said Allen.

Allen created the Helping Heroes Gala, held annually around Veterans Day, to raise funds for JAH4WW. From NFL-USO tours, military visits and monetary donations, to hosting golf tournaments and galas, Allen is committed to honoring and supporting wounded veterans. This marks the second consecutive year Allen is a finalist for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.

A self-proclaimed "military brat," three-time Pro Bowl player Jackson is proud of his parents combined 25 years of active-duty service in the Army. On Veterans' Day 2012, Jackson launched the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation to support military families by focusing on the educational, emotional and physical health of military children. In 2014, Jackson wrote a children's book, Danny Dogtags: Dealing with Deployment, describing what life is like growing up in a military family.

"I want to thank the NFL and USAA for their continued efforts to bring awareness to the sacrifices of our service members and their families," said Jackson. "I am humbled to even be considered for such a distinction, and I hope that this award will continue to inspire support for those who serve and protect us, both home and abroad."

Jackson and his wife Lindsey hosted the inaugural Military Moms Baby Shower for 40 expecting or recently delivered military moms in October 2014. Jackson and his wife surprised each woman with $1,000 in merchandise to help them care for their infant. Jackson provides a special gameday experience for local military families through the "Jackson in Action" Front Row Fans section. This is the second year in a row the Buccaneers have nominated Jackson for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.

In October 2014, 28 NFL clubs nominated coaches, active and retired players, and team executives and personnel who best demonstrated support for the military community. The submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges, including last year's recipient Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh. Nominees' credentials are evaluated based on the positive effect of the individual's efforts on the military community, the type of service conducted, the thoroughness of the program and level of commitment.

The panel of judges, consisting of representatives from the U.S. military, the NFL and USAA, includes:

• Vice Admiral John Bird (Ret.), U.S. Navy veteran, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs

• Rocky Bleier, U.S. Army veteran, four-time Super Bowl champion

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach and the 2013 Salute to Service Award recipient

• Chad Hennings, Air Force Academy graduate, three-time Super Bowl champion

• Paul Hicks, NFL executive vice president of communications

• Jim Mora, Sr., Marine Corps veteran, former NFL head coach

• Roger Staubach, Naval Academy graduate, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl MVP

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was the 2012 recipient and the inaugural recipient in 2011 was Tennessee Titans late owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, a World War II veteran.

The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-long commitment to recognize and honor the military community. To find out more about the NFL's Salute to Service campaign or to read teams' nominations, visit www.nfl.com/salute.

-- NFL Communications

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