Washington Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen are making news this week for all of the right reasons. Both left Tuesday on a USO Holiday Tour led by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Back in November, Detwiler and Stammen signed on for the tour and agreed to visit troops overseas. They were told to report Tuesday and arrived with suitcases in hand. Detwiler cut his honeymoon in Hawaii short to join the tour. His new wife was understanding and gave him the okay.
Because of national security, Detwiler and Stammen did not know where they were going on the tour. Neither does anyone else involved. This did not stop either from looking forward to the experience.
‘It’s kind of one of those things, you want to drop everything and go,’ Stammen told the Washington Post.
Both men are honored by the chance to participate in the tour. Detwiler’s grandfather helped train fighter pilots in World War II. Stammen’s best friend is a U.S. Marine named Phil Ernst. Ernst gave Stammen an idea of what the troops go through by once mentioning he had gone 146 straight days without a shower.
A trip to Walter Reed Medical Center this past summer may have been the experience which prompted Detwiler and Stammen to volunteer. The Nationals have troops visit all of their home games and honor them between innings. It is always special when they are shown on the big screen and recognized by public address announcer Jerome Hruska. Every troop that is honored receives a well deserved standing ovation from fans, players and Nationals Park personnel.
Like everyone in attendance Detwiler and Stammen understand that there is no way that we can thank our troops enough for what they do to defend our country. The trip to Walter Reed made Stammen want to spend more time with the troops who attended Nationals games, rather than simply saying hello.
Detwiler and Stammen will be joined on the tour by Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks, singer Kellie Pickler and comedian Iliza Schlesinger. The two pitchers may not know where they are going, but expect a reality check when they get there. Each would like to spend time with the troops and come away with more from their experience than they had when they left.
The issue of athletes as role models is often brought up and debated. The truth is, athletes are role models just as every adult in society is and no more so than parents, the local school teacher, banker or clergymen. Everyone should give back and set an example in some way. When they do it should be commended.
It is nice to see Detwiler and Stammen making news this week by doing something other than signing a $125 million contract or being on the cover of a magazine.
It is nice to see them making news for all of the right reasons and our prayers go out to them and everyone on the tour along with the military personnel they are visiting.