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The Military Order of the Purple Heart

For Immediate Release

Washington DC, November 17, 2011

MOPHSF Salutes David Van Sleet Upon Receipt of the Olin E. Teague National Award

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation is proud to salute David Van Sleet, head coach of “The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team” and a 30-year employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Van Sleet was selected as this year’s recipient of the 2011 prestigious Olin E. Teague National Award for the creation and coaching of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.  The Olin E. Teague Award pays tribute and gives high recognition to the VA Employee whose achievement has been extraordinarily beneficial to the rehabilitation of war-injured Veterans.  The ceremony took place on Capitol Hill on November 2, 2011 in the Committee Room of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs.

Deputy VA Secretary W. Scott Gould presents award to David Van Sleet

This prestigious award is named in honor of former Committee Chairman Olin E. Teague, considered the Congress’ most ardent veteran’s champion, who authored more veteran's legislation than any congressman before him.  He joined the Army in 1940 as a Lieutenant and participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.  He was a highly decorated combat veteran of  World War II receiving two Silver Star Medals, the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.  While in Congress, he was also instrumental in improving benefits for servicemen's survivors.  In 1956, he helped overhaul the survivor's benefits, with the creation of the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

MOPHSF President Jim Blaylock throws out first pitch

WWAST Team stands for the National Anthem

In 2010, David Van Sleet saw a need for returning Veterans to get involved in their community and proposed the creation of an amputee softball team. With the help of the University of Arizona, Van Sleet created a disabled sports camp. Twenty Vets were brought in from around the country and The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team was born.  Once a month, the team comes together to play able-bodied sports teams ranging from firefighters to military academy cadets, and cops to the FBI (a team they easily dismantled).  To show their capabilities, they never play other amputees.  Over the course of a weekend, the team usually plays two games and they often win.  It has been a difficult path to the ballpark for many of the players. After life-altering injuries, they had to rebuild. They were forced to heal with the help of rehabilitation and prosthetics, learned to accept their new physiques, and relearn how to do many of the things they love, including softball.  The MOPHSF is a proud sponsor of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.

For information contact:
National Public Relations Director, John Bircher, 352-753-5535
Email: PublicRelations@Purpleheart.org
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