TEMPE, Ariz. — On the same practice field the Arizona Cardinals use to prepare for battle on the gridiron, military veterans worked to overcome some of their own personal battles.
“People will parallel playing football to war. It’s nowhere on the same level. They are putting their lives on the line,” said Justin Pugh, Cardinals offensive guard.
Veterans were running through physical drills of all kinds. A good way to burn off stress and anxiety or a nice distraction.
It’s all part of the Merging Vets and Players (MVP), a nonprofit that seeks to ensure all military veterans can be as productive off the field as they were on it
The Arizona Cardinals and Pugh hosted the event at their training center in Tempe.
Pugh’s brother is currently serving and has seen some of the mental struggles his brother has had to face. He said he sees similarities between playing on a team and serving with a platoon.
“That locker room is everything. Being around people that are like-minded and have the same goals and things of that nature is huge,” said Pugh.
Joshua Peay is an Army veteran who now serves with the reserves and was among the veterans who took part.
“I thought it would be cool to come out here with some other veterans and hear their stories. Help them out if they can help me out,” said Peay. “In 2005, I went to Iraq. In 2012 I was in Afghanistan.”
Sometimes that tug of war between combat and civilian life can be tough. Peay has taken advantage of some of the resources available to veterans but said his biggest help has come from his family.
“My wife and kids really helped out with coming back dealing with stuff we were dealing with,” said Peay.
The event ended with the “huddle,” where all the veterans sat in a circle with the organizers and shared their experiences.
“Showing everyone is human here. Everyone has faults. Everyone has fears and be able to work together is the biggest thing. To be able to get around people who know what you’re going through is huge,” said Pugh.
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