Rocky Bleier

Just as Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier was about to wrap up his rookie season in 1968, a teammate called him over to the table the team reserved for fan mail. The former Notre Dame standout was surprised. He was not a high NFL draft pick or a well-known player and, in a few months with the team, had yet to receive any letters of support. When he opened the envelope, though, he realized that was still the case: In his hand was a notification that he had been drafted by the U.S. Army, which was immersed in the Vietnam War. He was due to report the next day. In combat the next year, he suffered grisly injuries that would reshape his life, but improbably, not nudge him off course.

The football player turned soldier turned injured veteran fought his way back to a professional football career that spanned more than a decade. In turn, he has used that story to inspire countless others not to yield in the most difficult circumstances, and he has donated time and energy to helping veterans like him reacclimate to the jarringly different lives they faced when they returned home.

Rocky is a member of the Congressional Committee for the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and the Purple Heart Foundation. He is an active board member of the Warriors to Citizens Foundation which is devoted to helping soldiers, police, fire, EMTs and their families recover from the psychological harm caused by career induced stress. Rocky also serves on the board of The National Flag Foundation that was founded to honor and respect our nation’s greatest symbol, the Flag of the United States of America. Rocky started the Rocky Bleier Golf Tournament to support Veterans Village in Appleton, Wisconsin. Rocky was born in Appleton, Wisconsin and currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife Jan.

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