GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are geared up for the annual Salute to Service week, including a wide range of activities and fundraising in early November, leading to Veterans Day.
From Nov. 1 to 11, shoppers at Fleet Farm stores in Wisconsin can round up their purchases, with the money going to H.O.O.A.H., an organization that works to eliminate suicide with a proactive approach to the overall wellness of service members, veterans and their support systems. The Packers will match up to $10,000 of those donations.
“Our focus is on keeping people healthy and involved in the community,” said Chelsea Kocken, a committee leader for H.O.O.A.H. Wisconsin, which offers a wide range of programs to keep veterans engaged in the community, with professionals and with other veterans.
Packers running back Aaron Jones, whose parents both were in the military, said at a kickoff press conference Tuesday at Lambeau Field that when veterans leave the military, they often lose important support infrastructure.
“Sacrifice and dedication doesn’t end when your military service ends,” Jones said.
Jones’ father, Alvin Sr., retired as a command sergeant major, and his mother, Vurgess, retired as a sergeant major. His older brother, Xavier, is in the U.S. Air Force. Alvin Jones Sr., 57, died in 2021 from complications of COVID-19.
“You get so used to working with a team. It’s a lot of structure. It keeps you busy, keeps you on your toes,” Jones said. “Once it’s over, it’s just you and your family.”
Jones and his twin brother, Alvin, created the A&A All The Way Foundation, which focuses on recreation and fitness, children’s basic needs, and supporting kids in military families.
“I have firsthand experience with the military. Without the military, I don’t know where I would be,” Jones said.
The Packers designated Oct. 30 to Nov. 5 as Military Appreciation Week, which will include daily events honoring veterans. Events include:
- Packers employees volunteering at Green Bay Vet Center’s Veterans’ Garden on Oct. 30.
- Packers players and veterans gathering at The Turn in Titletown on Oct. 31.
- A Salute to Service flag football tournament at Titletown on Nov. 3, featuring teams representing each branch of the military.
- A 50-mile Veteran Suicide Awareness March called 50 for the Fallen on Nov. 4. The 18-hour rucksack march will begin at Brown County Veterans Memorial and proceed around the Green Bay area before ending at halftime of the Packers-Los Angeles Rams game on Nov. 5 at Lambeau Field. Persons interested in participating can get more information at 50ftf.org.
- A 16.8-mile ruck march on the east side of Green Bay, starting at the KI Convention Center and using the Fox River Trail, on Nov. 11. The one-day event attracts more than 1,000 veterans, active-duty service members and civilians, which represents the number of veterans who commit suicide each day, according to H.O.O.A.H. Proceeds fund programs throughout the year that are customized to meet the needs of local veterans. Registration is available at hooahwi.org.
- The Packers-Rams game on Nov. 5 is designated the Salute to Service game. Players will wear and use equipment with NFL Salute to Service camo-ribbon decals. In-game videos will highlight veterans and those who are serving.
Veterans with military ID will get free admission to the Packers Hall of Fame on Nov. 11, as well as discounts at 1919 Kitchen and Tap and the Packers Pro Shop, which has Salute to Service gear in stock. Profit from purchases of Pro Shop gear will be donated by the NFL to its military nonprofit partners.
Fleet Farm will offer 10% off to veterans and active duty military personnel for in-store purchases on Nov. 11.
Throughout November, the Packers will share highlights of their efforts to recognize military members and veterans, including the team’s participation in the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight by Packers alumni and an upcoming visit to Fort McCoy by current Packers players. Highlights will be available at packers.com and on Packers social media sites.
Throughout the year, the Packers award grants, visit hospitals, offer Operation Fan Mail and more to support the military and veterans, said Aaron Popkey, director of public affairs.