Football Shows Appreciation During VA Hospital Visit
ALBANY, N.Y. — More than 40 members of the University at Albany football team visited Stratton VA Medical Center on Wednesday, spending their afternoon touring the facility and talking with veterans.
Student-athletes went from room to room across several of the hospital’s units to express their appreciation for our veterans’ service.
“It’s an opportunity for our student-athletes to come down and say thank you to people who have dedicated their lives to protecting this country,” said Greg Gattuso, UAlbany’s head coach. “It’s something that has grown every year, and the kids do a great job with it. I think the patients love when they come down to see them. It’s been very successful, and we’re very proud of it.”
This marks the sixth year that the Great Danes have visited patients at the hospital. It’s just one way UAlbany has given back to those who serve our country. Since 2013, UAlbany Football has partnered with the family of Army Lt. Col. Todd J. Clark, a Christian Brothers Academy graduate who was killed in action in Afghanistan, to honor military members at a football game by wearing the names of those who have served. This year, on Sept. 21, the game will be expanded to include first-responders on “Hometown Heroes” Day. CLICK HERE for more information.
Visits to Stratton VA have become a bi-annual tradition to which both the veterans and UAlbany student-athletes look forward. Members of UAlbany’s football team are quick to volunteer to attend, and veterans often request student-athletes drop by their rooms to chat.
“We wanted the athletes to be able to engage with the patients, just so they can give the patients a memory that’s different from what they’ve been through, whatever conflicts they’ve been through,” said Erwin Dominguez, the Volunteer Service Specialist at Stratton VA. “It’s something to look forward to, to remember UAlbany by. It’s been a very nice partnership.”
Added Karl Mofor, a rising junior running back for the Great Danes, “I feel like it’s important to give back because of how blessed we as student-athletes are to be in the position we’re in. You can definitely tell that it’s appreciated.”
Both Stratton VA and the football program expressed an interest in discussing more endeavors that bring veterans and student-athletes together.
“It’s been great to partner with the Albany VA since the inception of the Military Appreciation Game, now the Hometown Heroes Game,” said Matt Fischer, UAlbany’s Athletics Business Manager who helped coordinate the visit. “It’s always great to see the student-athletes speaking with veterans and seeing the vets’ reactions to our football team’s visit. We look forward to growing our partnership with the Albany VA.”