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Professional Athletes Hope to Fulfill Military Service, and Vice-Versa

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By Debbie Gregory.

On July 5, 2016, Brayan Pena of the St. Louis Cardinals announced that he was planning to join the Army Reserve after the 2016 season. Later that day though, he was informed that he was unable to enlist because such an action would violate the terms of his contract.

But not one to accept defeat, Peña has instead chosen to become an ambassador for the troops, where he will be visiting the troops overseas and conducting baseball clinics.

The Cuban native, who defected in 1999, has been a U.S. citizen for six years.

“It’s time for me to give something back to this great country. It’s not something where I just woke up and did it. I’ve given it some thought and some research. I’m very excited. It’s an honor for me.”

Pena said leaving Cuba for the United States dramatically changed his life, and he began considering the Reserve several years ago when he talked about it with former Cincinnati Reds teammate Jay Bruce.

In other military/sports related news, 24-year-old Christian Hill, who spent five years on active duty in the Air Force, is utilizing an early separation program from the military for an opportunity to go to school and play college football this fall for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Additionally, U.S. Army reservist and pole vaulter Sam Kendricks is on his way to Rio! The 23-year-old second lieutenant set a new U.S. Track and Field Trials record on the 4th of July with his 19 feet, 4 3/4 inches (5.91 meters) jump.

Kendricks won’t be the only representative for the Armed Forces making his way to Rio to compete in the summer Olympics. U.S. Air Force Academy star Cale Simmons finished in second place, good enough to make the team as well.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.