Battlefields to Ballfields will provide veterans an opportunity to integrate back into their communities through officiating and scholarships.
At President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech in 1961, he spoke the famous words, "ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.’’
For the brave men and women who continue to serve in the military, those words ring true more than a half-century later. We know there’s no greater sacrifice one can make than to serve one’s country. Yet what happens to these veterans after they have made that sacrifice? What happens when they come home?
Many vets face an uphill battle when they return as they figure out how they will integrate back into society. This has become the impetus for a new foundation, “Battlefields to Ballfields.’’
The Foundation will provide scholarships to veterans who return from defending our country with an opportunity to get integrated back into their community through officiating.
The Foundation will pay for uniforms and dues that are required by the associations the veterans will join at the local level. Battlefields to Ballfields will pay for their equipment, training materials, insurance, and provide a mentor--who will train and follow them as they move up the ladder in officiating.
Those who have been involved in officiating already have felt the joy of stepping out onto the field or a court. With it comes a great sense of value that leaves one with a feeling of accomplishment.
In serving in the military, and in officiating, there’s the common bond of being a member of a team and creating order out of chaos. Battlefields to Ballfields will provide these veterans with an opportunity to hone their newfound officiating skills and participate in something that will give them a new sense of self-worth along with the ability to make some extra income.
While the ultimate goal will be to get some of our returning veterans into the upper levels of officiating, including the professional ranks, they will start out at the local level working high school and youth level games.
The Foundation will start in a few key areas in Northern and Southern California. Several local officiating associations around the country have already asked to be involved in this foundation. Battlefields to Ballfields will move to a regional concept in 2017 before expanding nationally in 2018.
The image of officials on all levels and in all sports has suffered greatly in the past decade or so. Local associations are actively recruiting officials because there are not enough signing up to officiate. Youth sports deserve competent officiating and full officiating crews at all levels. Battlefields to Ballfields will help address this issue also. This Foundation will put more officials and judges into the system and will greatly enhance the image of those entering the officiating ranks.
Mike Pereira, former Vice President of officiating in the NFL and current rules analyst for Fox Sports, created and leads the Foundation that will be guided by a board of directors comprised of people who are experienced in business, military service, and officiating.
Pereira and the board will be joined by people who will donate their time and who will help coordinate the programs at their local levels. Applicants must be 18 years or older and be a veteran.
The Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation will be funded by charitable contributions from businesses, organizations and individuals.
President Calvin Coolidge once said “a nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.’’
We have not — and will not forget. Battlefields to Ballfields will help ensure that.