Tillman a finalist for Salute to Service Award
January 15th, 2013
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has been selected as one of two finalists for the NFL’s 2012 Salute to Service Award, which recognizes those who honor and support members of the military community.
Having grown up in a military family, Tillman understands the importance of giving back to those who serve our country. He has visited U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait, conducted youth football camps on military bases and delivered thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment to patients in an Army hospital.
Tillman’s father, Army Sergeant Donald Tillman Jr., is retired from the military after 20 years of service. The Bears star attended 11 schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, living on Army bases in Kansas, California, Texas and Germany.
In 2010, Tillman joined New York Giants center Shaun O’Hara on an eight-day USO tour to visit troops in Iraq and Kuwait. The two NFL players traveled to Camp Buehring and Camp Virginia in Kuwait, spent three nights in Baghdad and flew over Saddam Hussein’s former palace complex in a Black Hawk helicopter.
Tillman and O’Hara flew into Joint Base Balad in Iraq for a meet-and-greet with service members, signed photos and sports memorabilia, and had dinner with troops.
Tillman ran into several of his former high school classmates from Fort Hood in Texas. He also spent time with his youth mentor, Master Sergeant Curtis Pitts and his wife Sergeant First Class Tamla Pitts; as well as Tillman’s uncle Sergeant First Class Shaun Silas.
“Coming from a military background and just knowing what [the troops] go through on a daily basis in a war, the least Shaun and I could do was to go over there and thank them for what they’re doing—and most importantly let them know that they’re not forgotten,” Tillman told the Chicago Bears website shortly after he returned from the trip.
During the Bears’ bye week this season, Tillman returned home to Fort Hood to visit the Darnall Army Medical Center, donating a “Charles’ Locker” on behalf of his Cornerstone Foundation that was filled with iPads, notebook computers, DVD players, portable PlayStation game systems and other electronic handheld games to help patients pass the time during recovery and treatment.
Tillman has also supported the Bears’ “Hello to Our Heroes” letter-writing campaign by visiting elementary schools to help students write letters to U.S. troops in an effort to boost morale among those serving our country overseas.
The other finalist for the 2012 Salute to Service Award is Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik. The winner will be announced Feb. 2, the night before the Super Bowl in New Orleans, during the “2nd Annual NFL Honors” awards show on CBS.
The honor will be bestowed by the NFL and the USAA, the league’s official military appreciation sponsor and leading provider of insurance and other services to members of the U.S. military.
In October, 23 NFL clubs nominated coaches, active and retired players, and team personnel who best demonstrated support for the military community. The submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges 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.
“There are many men and women across the NFL who actively support the military and their families,” said Steve Speakes, executive vice president of USAA’s external affairs and a retired Army lieutenant general. “The Salute to Service Award is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on at least a few of those stories so that we may inspire others to do the same.”