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To honor current and former service men and women, the Detroit Tigers hosted their annual Military Appreciation Game at Comerica Park, preceded by a visit to Detroit’s John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs Medical Center to meet veterans involved in the hospital’s Recreational Therapy and Art Therapy Programs.

Upon arrival at the VA medical center, Tigers players and Bally Sports Detroit broadcasters met with Detroit VA Chief Executive Officer Chris Cauley and the staff members who run the therapy programs, then teamed up with veterans to compete in various sports and art activities. Players Casey Mize, Zach McKinstry and Jake Rogers attended, along with broadcasters Dan Petry and Craig Monroe.

“It’s an interesting perspective of them being excited to see me and thinking highly of me when I reciprocate that completely,” said Tigers pitcher Casey Mize. “I think so highly of these people that are here. They served so that we can go about daily life and know that we’re protected. The freedom we have in this country, they stand on that line and fight for that. It’s important to recognize that and I am as excited to see them as they are to see me.”

Activities included Tee Whiffle Ball, where players helped veterans set up and swing; a Blindfold Baseball Toss, challenging both players and non-blind veterans in an accuracy competition; and an Art Therapy activity, with players and veterans collaborating on painting and mixed media projects.

“The art unlocks something that they can’t always express,” said Shelley Knoodle, creative arts therapist with the Detroit VA Medical Center. “They find their words through their creative process. So, bridging what we do in treatment and working with the Tigers on this, I think they’ll be on cloud nine for a while.”

The event underscored the Tigers’ commitment to honoring military service members. The inspirational moments captured during the visit were shared across the Tigers’ social media platforms during the Military Appreciation Game against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 7.

U.S. Army Major Jonathan Turnbull threw out the first pitch, and the National Anthem was performed by 1SG Andrew Schwallier of the 126th Army Band. Active service members and veterans were invited to participate in an on-field ceremony and received more than 1,000 tickets to enjoy the game with their families.

“The annual Military Appreciation game is more than just a tradition; it’s a tribute to the brave men and women who have made sacrifices for our freedom,” said Jon Perry, community impact manager at Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “Our visit to the VA medical center provides players and broadcasters a meaningful opportunity to spend time with the veterans and to hear their stories in advance of that game.”