The National Football League (NFL) has long participated in Salute to Service, a campaign dedicated to honoring those who are actively serving and have served in the military, as well as their families.
According to NFL.com, the year-round effort is deeply rooted in “partnerships with nonprofits and organizations that support the military community in the United States and across the world.” Through this act of service, the NFL honors its commitment by recognizing active military and veterans at games and events, and even visits military bases both domestically and internationally.
Salute to Service has been up and running since 2011 and has since raised more than $58 million for its partners, but it’s not just the governing body of the NFL that is dedicated to the cause — each team in the NFL has its own way of honoring those who have fought for their country. The NFL’s Salute to Service isn’t the only way the league and the teams honor the sacrifice of current and former soldiers.
In July 2022, the Cowboys hosted Soldiers to Sidelines, an organization that takes active duty, veterans, and military spouses, and puts them on the field as coaches, at their training facility, The Star, in Frisco, TX. Founder and President of STS Harrison Bernstein said the event was meant to turn more service members, veterans, military spouses, and Gold Star families into quality coaches to continue to serve their country in their community as football coaches.
“The Dallas Cowboys have gone out of their way to develop and train the local military Texas football coaches with STS to become great coaches. Together we created that connection from the military community to the Cowboys,” Bernstein said. “By doing this, the Dallas Cowboys are actively trying to close the gap or trying to close the shortage of coaches in our communities. The Dallas Cowboys rolled out the red carpet for all of the Soldiers to Sidelines soldier coaches to inspire and motivate them to continue to serve their country as a coach.”
One of those “red carpet” features the Dallas Cowboys provided for the event was veteran and former Cowboy Chad Hennings himself. The legendary defensive tackle spoke with all who were in attendance at the coaching seminar, both in one-on-one conversations and in a motivating, inspirational speech.
Hennings has an illustrious military and football career. Not only did he play football at the Air Force Academy, and the Cowboys later on in his career, but Hennings also served in the Air Force as a pilot, having fought overseas in the Persian Gulf. Bernstein said that Hennings is a tremendous person of honor and integrity, and holds many of the values that his soldier coaches possess and bring to the community, which is why his presence at the seminar was so impactful.
“[The Solider to Sidelines] network in the military community is strong enough that we were able to connect with Chad and tell him what we were doing with the Cowboys to show up and really give a vote of confidence for everybody that is on this coaching mastering journey in the sport of football,” Bernstein said. “He’s just an incredible person. Even his presence alone has an impact on our service members and veterans forging ahead as a coach in the community. His humility shines through and that’s true for so many of our soldier coaches because that’s what military service is; It’s not about self, it’s selfless service. So when we bring that to the community as a coach, it can be powerful.”
Photo credits: Emilee White, Chad Hennings’ Instagram