NFL teams with foundation to support veterans, families

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL is joining an effort for nonprofit organizations to support healthy lifestyle programs for veterans and their families.

The league will contribute $2 million to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which was established in 2006 after the television journalist was wounded by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq.

The foundation has invested more than $55 million for programs that empower the military and their families. The NFL will work with the Woodruff group in creating a grant referral system for nonprofits.

Anna Isaacson, the NFL senior vice president of social responsibility, says the league is committed to "evolving its work in the military landscape and funding programs that will make a tangible, long-lasting impact."

One of those programs is Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a nationwide nonprofit that provides rehabilitative fly fishing programs for disabled active duty personnel and for disabled veterans. It has 8,500 participants and another 3,500 volunteers who teach disabled veterans the intricacies of fly fishing and stages events locally, regionally and nationally.

"The BWF provides us with a grant each year that supports one of our largest programs for rod building," says Todd Desgrosseilliers, president and CEO of Project Healing Waters who spent 31 years in the military and sustained traumatic head injuries in combat. "We had over 900 veterans participate in it thanks to that. It's part of a larger core of activities we have that include fly fishing education and outings.

"We meet on a regular basis, whether weekly or twice or month, with a minimum of once a month. This is a group of disabled veterans coming together with folks who care about them, and involved in an activity that is fun and therapeutic."

An affiliation with the NFL is logical, says Marshall Lauck, chief growth and marketing officer for the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

"The NFL is such a prominent American brand and one that has a longstanding commitment to the vet community," Lauck says. "This is not something new to them, given their history with supporting veterans and the active military. It's a time of increased interest on their part in how most effectively they can support the veteran community (through nonprofits).

"Our expertise can be very helpful for the NFL in its goals in supporting the veteran communities."

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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