Patrick Nelson, originally of Dawson and currently of Eden Prairie, was chosen to represent the Minnesota Twins for the Major League Baseball and People magazine "Tribute for Heroes" prior to the MLB All-Star Game on July 16, MLB announced on Wednesday.
Nelson accumulated 39 months of combat experience as a paratrooper in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as serving nearly seven years of active service for the United States Army, and will join 29 other veterans ranging from ages 26 to 92 for the All-Star week festivities in New York.
The Tribute for Heroes campaign is a national initiative aiming to recognize veterans and service men and women, which also builds upon both MLB and People's commitment to honoring the nation's heroes.
Each of the winners, representing the 30 MLB teams, will be included in the All-Star Week festivities, including a private tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Chevrolet Home Run Derby and the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field. The veterans will also attend and be honored during the pre-game ceremony prior to the game on Fox beginning at 6:30 p.m.
In June 2005, Nelson was wound by a rocket while serving near the Pakistani border. He returned to Afghanistan to continue fighting after recovering from his injuries and was later awarded the Bronze Star Medal in 2008.
Nelson was also the first-ever recipient of the NFL-Tillman Scholarship, honoring an individual who best exemplifies Pat Tillman's legacy of service.
Nelson graduated magna cum laude from Minnesota State University-Mankato in 2012.
After leaving the Army, Nelson started Real Combat Life, a nonprofit offering veterans an online forum to share their combat stories with hopes of a therapeutic result. Nelson also volunteered for the Greater Mankato Tee It Up for the Troops golf event, which raises money for wounded veterans and their families, and recently began working with Minnesota businesses to help end veteran unemployment.
The Tribute for Heroes campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans, a joint initiative of MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service.