Former NFL star shows his love and respect for Veterans
Department of Veterans Affairs
Upon receiving the call a few months ago, former National Football League star running back Earnest Byner felt honored to be tapped for the role. He had been selected as a guest speaker during the annual “Parade of Athletes” at the National Veterans Golden Age Games in Albuquerque.
Byner is the founder of The Healing Dawgs, a non-profit group that is aimed at teaching, helping, and healing through humanitarian efforts in communities, with a special focus on Veterans, the homeless, and youth. He has led visits to VA medical centers in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., in hopes of assuring wounded Veterans that their service and the sacrifices they have made for their country are not going unnoticed.
The “Parade of Athletes” took place Sunday evening at the Kiva Auditorium at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The nearly 1,000 Veterans who are participating in the Golden Age Games—which run from Aug. 3-8 in Albuquerque and offer many sports and recreational events for Veterans age 55 and older—were on hand to hear Byner speak.
Speaking with passion and emotion, Byner urged the Veterans to keep on competing in sports “because healing comes from within when you are competing,” he said. “If you are trying to get better on a daily basis, you provide healing for the mind, body, and spirit.”
He also told the Vets: “I appreciate and honor and love you because of the freedoms you have fought for. You have given your life and limbs.”
Byner said the Veteran community and retired NFL players like himself share several potential similarities. Members of both groups could be experiencing debilitating symptoms from concussions. In addition, the Veteran population is battling alarming rates of suicide and drug and alcohol addiction, issues that are also of concern in the community of retired NFL players.
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