MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — When it comes to Veterans Day, the Miami Heat organization takes the special day very seriously.
Pat Riley celebrates Veterans Day more than once a year.
Last week, the president of the Miami Heat helped America’s Moms For Soldiers make care packages for troops who’ll be overseas for the holidays. On Tuesday, he helped refurbish homes of two former U.S. Army soldiers.
When the Heat host to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, the “Home Strong” program he founded will pay tribute to 11 soldiers at the game and more around the world.
Riley never served in the military, but has spoken out for years about the need to help soldiers who served overseas. The Heat took their training camp to a pair of military bases in Florida’s Panhandle in 2010. Riley said the team may look into doing something similar in the future.
“I think it’s a day of recognition,” Riley said of Veterans Day. “They don’t want it. They don’t seek it. I don’t think they even expect it. But when they get it, I think they’re very grateful for that. We’re just glad to be part of it.”
On Tuesday, the Heat helped make improvements to the Miami-area homes of Army veterans Matthew James and Willie Franklin. James was the victim of an armed robbery in front of his home in 2008, and the injuries from that robbery forced him to leave his job. Franklin, a World War II veteran, is dealing with health problems.
“I don’t think we can ever do enough for these veterans,” Riley said.
At every home Heat game since 2006, the team has honored a soldier who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. On Wednesday, Miami will honor 10 U.S. Army staff sergeants and the national anthem to be performed by U.S. Army Sergeant Corrin Campbell. There will be a live, pregame salute to the U.S. Army’s Florida-based 810th Military Police Company stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan.
NBA teams have been honoring troops for several days with Veterans Day celebrations, but Miami’s events are among the more elaborate.
“It’s just great to be part of it,” Riley said. “It’s part of who we are and the people who run it are sincere, very sincere about it and care about it. This year there still are many Americans who are displaced in places where they probably shouldn’t be — but they are because of how we as a country care about other people in other parts of the world.”
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