Bears defensive end Jared Allen, who played six seasons for Minnesota (2008-13), was named the winner of the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA on Saturday during the 4th Annual NFL Honors show in Arizona.
Supporting the military has always been important to Allen, whose grandfather served 23 years in the Marine Corps, uncle was in the Air Force and little brother is a Marine.
A USO trip that Allen took to American military bases in the Middle East in 2009 inspired him to launch the Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors Foundation (homesforwoundedwarriors.com) to build and remodel homes with accessibility features for soldiers that suffered wounds during their brave course of service.
Under Allen's leadership, the organization has raised more than $3.5 million with the goal of helping 10 veterans each year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson was the other finalist for the award. The players were selected by a panel for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community.
USAA, which provides insurance and services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families will contribute $25,000 to official aid societies representing all five military branches in Allen's honor.
"Since joining the NFL to launch Salute to Service in 2011, USAA has been proud to recognize leaders in the NFL community who honor the service and sacrifice of our nation's military," said Don Clark, assistant vice president of media and sponsorship marketing at USAA.
"Jared Allen and Vincent Jackson have not only supported military and their families for years through their respective foundations, but they inspired so many others to join their efforts."
"It's an honor to be considered for such an award that encourages people to support the men and women who serve this great country," Allen said.
A total of 28 NFL teams made a nomination of a coach, active or retired player or executive that best demonstrated support for the military community.
Punter Jeff Locke, who was born on an Air Force base in Germany while his father was serving, was selected to represent the Vikings this year. Locke's commitment to supporting the military includes financial donations, as well as visits with hospitalized veterans.
Prior winners of the award are the late Houston Oilers Founder/Tennessee Titans Owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. (2011); Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (2012) and Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh (2013).
To find out more about the NFL's Salute to Service campaign or to read teams' nominations, visit www.nfl.com/salute.