By Armed Forces Press ServiceJuly 17, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS (July 17, 2013) -- Injured Army veteran Jeffrey Mittman and 29 other military veterans were honored Tuesday during Major League Baseball's All-Star Game held at Citi Field in Queens, N.Y., home of the New York Mets.
Mittman and the other finalists were chosen by People magazine and MLB in their joint "Tribute for Heroes" campaign. Each finalist was selected after receiving the highest number of votes among other veterans representing their chosen MLB teams. Mittman will represent the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"Right on the heels of the Fourth of July, I couldn't be more honored to be recognized amongst such a distinguished group of patriots -- at a game of baseball no less," Mittman said. "You can't get more American than that.
"My first memory of baseball is watching Pittsburgh in the '79 World Series, so my connection to the Pirates began very early."
The heroes participated in the All-Star pre-game ceremony and All-Star Week festivities. One of the "Tribute for Heroes" winners will be featured in People magazine.
A roadside bomb left Mittman nearly blind and with severe injuries while he was serving as an U.S. Army advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior on July 7, 2005. Mittman, who was driving a team of soldiers in a Humvee that came under attack from unseen assailants, sustained the brunt of the explosion. He was left without a nose, lips, most of his teeth and the majority of his vision. After enduring more than 40 operations, Mittman's face was reconstructed and he successfully adapted to life with limited vision. After retiring from the Army in 2011, Mittman worked for the National Industries for the Blind before joining the Defense Finance and Accounting Service as a public affairs specialist.
"There's no one I can think of that exemplifies an American hero and deserves recognition more than Jeff," said Aaron Gillison, the director at DFAS Indianapolis and Executive Champion for the DFAS Hire A Hero Program.
"His attitude and uplifting message of perseverance and continuing service despite incredible adversity has inspired not only his co-workers, but thousands of others who have been lucky enough to hear his story."
Mittman is a nationally sought-after public speaker and regularly advocates on behalf of disabled Americans and veterans. He received three Bronze Star medals, the Purple Heart and numerous other awards for combat actions during his nearly 22-year military career.
Joe Kapacziewski represented Fort Benning and the 75th Ranger Regiment at the tribute. The Boston Red Sox was the team Kapacziewski represented.
Kapacziewski, who is from Upatoi, Ga., was the first Army Ranger to return to combat after an amputation. He lost his leg in 2005 to a grenade explosion while deployed to Iraq.
He went through 42 surgeries on his leg before the amputation. He returned to duty with a prosthetic leg and has deployed five times as an amputee.