There's nothing like running full out with a football and making a touchdown. It clears the mind, re-sets it. Air Force veteran Andrew Daily knew this, and felt it could help some of his friends who were returning troubled from deployment.
Andrew Daily: I have been so fortunate these eleven years to have not been asked to deploy. My friend was asked to deploy multiple times. He did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, anyway, we're so close, him and I. We grew up together. He would share some of these experiences with me and I've been so far removed, again, luckily, from all of that stuff. So, hearing the things that he went through and being, you know, kind of unable to help him because we're displaced, or he's been in a whole different location than I'd been for the last decade. It made me want to do something. You know, he's not the only one. There's thousands of people in the military. It made me want to do something to help people cope. I give people an outlet to go and do something.
Sports has always been my outlet. My coach was a huge inspiration to me in my life. So, me and a few other veterans… I've got an Army vet. Him and his wife were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and were med-boarded because they were injured in Afghanistan. They ended up getting out of the military. Now, him and I and his wife and our whole collective of people have come together to build the Greater Dayton Flag Football League.
Sports is such a good outlet, you know, for everything. You can get motivated to go out there and it will take your mind away from the bad things that are happening in your life. You can just focus on one thing. You got to move the ball down the field, and you do X, Y and Z to make that happen. You don’t have to worry about all the stressors that are happening in your life. You know, you can just come out to the field and play.
We have a huge following on our base here. In fact, in the last two years, we've been able to create not just membership in our league, but we've created a huge Wright-Patterson Air Force Base flag football team. They've ended up getting funded through the base to go and travel around and do some different stuff. We've tried to support that as much as we can. Again, I started doing this because my friend was struggling. He didn't have an outlet. You know, people go through some bad stuff and it's so beneficial to have an outlet.
Air Force veteran Andrew Daily told his story as part of StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative which visited the Miami Valley last summer. Veterans’ Voices on WYSO is presented by Wright-Patt Credit Union with additional support from CareSource. This story was edited by Will Davis and created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.