NFL players interact with D.C. military during playoff game

By Senior Airman Susan Moreno
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. – Football jerseys of all teams and colors speckled the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) Lounge today at the Bolling Club on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Although the main draw for NFL Game Day was an opportunity to meet former NFL players, eat free food, and watch the Chicago Bears take on the Seattle Seahawks on the flat screen televisions scattered throughout the room, there was also a more sobering underlying theme for the event.

Former NFL player Ken Harvey (Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals Linebacker), left, chats with Air Force Col. Monique Minnick, right at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB). Harvey, Eric Hipple (Detroit Lions Quarterback ), Ricky Ervins (San Francisco 49ers Running Back) and Mark Washington (Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots Cornerback) mingled with Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, Coast Guardsmen and Marines at JBAB in Washington, D.C., while watching the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears NFL playoff game. During halftime, the players told the crowd that NFL players experience stress and depression at times during their careers, as well as while transitioning from the NFL to a post-NFL lifestyle. Reaching out for help and talking about talking about the feelings is a sign of strength, not one of weakness, said Hipple. The NFL Players Association partnered with the DOD Real Warriors Campaign and JBAB to encourage military and civilian personnel to seek assistance for depression, stress and other psychological situations just as they seek medical assistance for physical injuries, JBAB Commanding Officer, Navy Capt. John Sears, said. (U.S. Navy photo by Joseph P Cirone/Released)

Former NFL player Ken Harvey (Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals Linebacker), left, chats with Air Force Col. Monique Minnick, right at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB). Harvey, Eric Hipple (Detroit Lions Quarterback ), Ricky Ervins (San Francisco 49ers Running Back) and Mark Washington (Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots Cornerback) mingled with Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, Coast Guardsmen and Marines at JBAB in Washington, D.C., while watching the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears NFL playoff game. During halftime, the players told the crowd that NFL players experience stress and depression at times during their careers, as well as while transitioning from the NFL to a post-NFL lifestyle. “Reaching out for help and talking about talking about the feelings is a sign of strength, not one of weakness,” said Hipple. “The NFL Players Association partnered with the DOD Real Warriors Campaign and JBAB to encourage military and civilian personnel to seek assistance for depression, stress and other psychological situations just as they seek medical assistance for physical injuries,” JBAB Commanding Officer, Navy Capt. John Sears, said. (U.S. Navy photo by Joseph P Cirone/Released)

NFL Game Day was presented by JBAB’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation in partnership with the Real Warriors Campaign and the NFL Player’s Association, where players discussed common reintegration challenges facing service members and the tools and resources available to address them.

“An event like this means a lot to an active duty member returning home,” said Navy Lt. Kwasi Sneed, who recently returned from a deployment to Liberia, in an interview with Fox News WTTG TV. “The parallel between military members and football players is that both sides can relate to the challenges of preparing for ‘game day,’ which, for the military member, means preparing for war. We share some of the same experiences, just on different scales.”

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U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Chief Petty Officer Kyle Herbert of College Park, Md., Sea Cadet 3rd Class Petty Officer Leila Farzam of Bethesda, Md., Navy Capt. John Sears of Alexandria, Va., Former NFL players Ken Harvey (Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals Linebacker), Mark Washington (Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots Cornerback) and Eric Hipple (Detroit Lions Quarterback ), Navy Lt. Kwasi Sneed and former NFL player Ricky Ervins (San Francisco 49ers Running Back) enjoy a laugh while watching the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears NFL playoff game at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) in Washington, D.C.. (U.S. Navy photo by Joseph P Cirone/Released)

“What’s going on here right now is good for all types and aspects of mental health,” said former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple in another segment of that interview. “We need to explore the things that make us mentally unhealthy, like relationships, finances, PTSD or stress and keep those things in check.”

Hipple is the current outreach coordinator for the University of Michigan Center for Depression. He also travels the country speaking on suicide prevention.

“People join the military for different reasons,” said Ken Harvey, former linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins. “It’s something I deeply respect, when someone makes a sacrifice for a belief that they hold. It gives the rest of us the ability to enjoy our freedom.”

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Former NFL player Ken Harvey (Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals Linebacker), left, makes a point to (left to right) an unidentified DOD civilian employee, U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Instructor Negar Rafikin, Sea Cadet 3rd Class Petty Officer Leila Farzam and Sea Cadet Chief Petty Officer Kyle Herbert, all members of the Sea Cadet Corps’ Henry E. Mooberry Division based at the Washington Navy Yard. (U.S. Navy photo by Joseph P Cirone/Released)

“This is a venue to allow an opportunity for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to come forward, reach out and talk to someone,” said Navy Capt. John Sears, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling commander. “It also gives them a chance to be a good wingman as they say in the Air Force, or shipmate as we say in the Navy. It’s better to let it out than keep it in, because it won’t get better on its own.”

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