We Salute the Bravest of the Braves

On Memorial Day, the Atlanta Braves paid tribute to those who have served and are serving our country.  While we utilize this special day to honor a number of men and women in uniform in a variety of ways, the Braves are committed to helping soldiers year round through the BraveHeart program.

To mark the occassion, the Braves and Emory University honored veterans and celebrated the first year of BraveHeart: Welcome Back Veterans Southeast Initiative at Turner Field with a visit from retired Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

General Chiarelli threw the first pitch and delivered a message of thanks to the fans for their support of the troops. Wounded warrior Army Captain (Ret.) Dan Berschinski served as the honorary team captain. In addition, a giant American flag, along with stars representing the five branches of the military, was displayed and held by members of our nation’s military while military personnel from various branches lined the bases during the national anthem.

We were fortunate to sit down with Captain (Ret.) Dan Berchinski and speak with him about his experience serving our country and his involvement with BraveHeart.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your story?

A:  I was raised in Georgia and grew up a lifelong Braves fan.  I attended college at the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York and became an Army officer in 2007.  I served with a unit in Washington state and then went to Afghanistan in 2009 where I was wounded.

Q: What does it mean to you to be involved with a program like BraveHeart, especially here at Turner Field on Memorial Day?

A: Being local and a Braves fan, I was excited to hear that the Atlanta Braves have partnered up with Emory University to offer an advocacy group and treatment options for veterans.  It is very near and dear to my heart. Anything that takes care of soldiers, anything that deals with wounded veterans and their recovery is special to me, so I was very excited when I was given an opportunity to be here today.

Q: A lot of people that need help may not feel comfortable asking for it.  What advice do you have for the families of veterans to assist in getting the help and treatment that they need?

A: Speaking from my own personal experience, veterans just need a strong support system, a good family or network of friends.  It can make the entire process bearable. I’m not saying that it will be easy, but bearable.  When you are going through something tough, it is much easier to go through it with someone that you love and that loves you. That’s what the BraveHeart family can offer.  They can offer advice, support, and direction.  The great thing about soldiers is that we are hard workers and we can follow direction.  Soldiers, when given the opportunity, will absolutely take advantage of being advocates for their own recovery.

Below are a few photos from the Memorial Day pre-game ceremonies including the flyover, General Chiarelli throwing out the first pitch, and Captain Berchinski at home plate during the umpires meeting.  For more information on BraveHeart, please visit www.BraveHeartVeterans.org.

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