—2/23/16—WASHINGTON – The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) has awarded NFL, Indianapolis Colts community spokesperson and Iraq War Veteran Josh Bleill with its prestigious Public Spirit Award. ALA National President Sharon Conatser presented the award at a special luncheon in Bleill’s honor Feb. 22 during the ALA’s annual Washington DC Conference, at the Washington Hilton.
“Josh is incredibly inspiring. He epitomizes what this award is all about. Through his many public appearances around the country with audiences of all ages, he shares his story and what it means to stay positive in the face of obstacles. He motivates all of us to do the same,” said ALA National President Sharon Conatser.
Bleill is an Indiana native who joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2004 and was deployed to Iraq in 2006. While conducting combat patrols on Oct. 15 of that year, his Humvee was struck by an improvised explosive device. Five days later, he woke up to the realization that he had lost two of his friends and both of his legs in the explosion. He spent two years in recovery at Walter Reed Military Medical Center where he met Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who later offered him a job as a community spokesperson with the NFL team.
“Thank you so much for this honor,” Bleill said. “It means a lot to know that people like you, the members of the ALA, are supporting those who serve and are giving back to their families and their communities. I share my story just about every day, and I want you to know those stories I share are not just my stories. They’re the stories of the millions of men and women who have served and allowed us our freedoms.”
Established in 1983, the ALA’s Public Sprit Award is given annually to an outstanding organization and/or individual for contributions that positively impact our communities through service to our military, veterans and their families. Previous recipients of the ALA’s Public Spirit Award include the Home Depot Foundation, author Sarah Smiley, Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.), Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Ronald Reagan, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Ann Landers, and Miss America 2000 Heather Renee French.
American Legion Auxiliary members have dedicated themselves for nearly a century to meeting the needs of our nation’s veterans, military and their families both here and abroad. They volunteer millions of hours yearly, with a value of more than $3.1 billion. As part of the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, Auxiliary volunteers across the country also step up to honor veterans and military through annual scholarships and with ALA Girls State programs, teaching high school juniors to be leaders grounded in patriotism and Americanism. To learn more about the Auxiliary’s mission or to volunteer, donate or join, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.
###Contact: Kristen Geczy, (850) 814-6684; kgeczy@ALAforVeterans.org