Vikings running back Latavius Murray will joined other players and former NFL head coach Rex Ryan on a weeklong NFL-USO tour to Italy and Germany to visit American troops and their families on military bases, the NFL announced Wednesday.
Murray will be joined by Panthers defensive end Mario Addison, Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap, Falcons guard Ben Garland and Saints running back Mark Ingram.
An extension of the NFL's Salute to Service – the League's yearlong work to honor, empower and connect service members through the unifying lens of football and strategic partnerships with impact-driven organizations – this year's NFL-USO tour will feature an array of base activities consisting of unit visits to one-on-one meetings with installation leadership. The NFL ambassadors will also spend quality time with service members and their families, as well as distribute sports-themed USO2GO kits designed to help service members in remote locations relax and recharge.
"The NFL is proud to work with the USO on another goodwill tour, providing players, coaches and executives the chance to show their appreciation for service members and have the unique experience of engaging with our Nation's heroes in person," said NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson. "The League's connection to the military is longstanding, due in large part to a strong partnership with the USO. The NFL remains committed to giving back to the brave individuals who fight for our safety every day and honoring them for their service and sacrifice."
For more than 50 years, the NFL and USO have worked together to support the military and strengthen service members by connecting them to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send players on a tour to Vietnam and other parts of the Far East. Since then, more than 250 NFL players, coaches and executives have visited troops on NFL-USO tours in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Somalia and South Korea. In 2008, Commissioner Roger Goodell* *became the first sports commissioner to visit the troops overseas as part of a USO tour when he visited Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The USO and NFL have teamed up for more than 50 years as a Force Behind the ForcesSM to connect service members and their families to the things they hold dear," said CEO and President of the USO, J.D. Crouch II. "This tour is one of many ways we work together to salute America's men and women in uniform by bringing them a taste of home and the thanks of a grateful nation for all they do to protect and defend our freedoms."
In addition to overseas morale-building visits, the NFL has supported several different USO projects through Salute to Service and in 2016, announced a $5 million commitment to the USO over three years to support the expansion and refurbishment of USO centers and programming.
For more information on the USO please visit uso.org.
About the USO:The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort, and support. The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff.