COP Keating veteran and Clemson Football player nominated for USAA Award

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COP Keating veteran and Clemson Football player nominated for USAA Award

Saw this on a Clemson football board this morning.  (No, was not trolling college football sites, a friend of mine on Facebook shared it):

Daniel Rodriguez, who accomplished his dream by making the Clemson football team after battling post-traumatic stress syndrome, is nominated for the 2012 USAA Athletic Inspiration Award for Courage in Sports

(, Intersport announced today. The USAA Athletic Inspiration Award, wholly determined by fan voting, recognizes individuals who have overcome monumental challenges to achieve greatness in the world of sports. The winner will be announced on a one-hour “Courage in Sports” special airing at 5 p.m. ET Nov. 11 on CBS.

Four remarkable individuals have been selected to participate in the Facebook voting. From now until Oct. 8 fans may vote once per day and share their vote with friends at

Daniel was a three-time letter winner for football in high school and planned to play in college, but the death of his father – just four days after his high school graduation – changed everything.

Daniel served one and a half years in Iraq followed by a year-long tour in Afghanistan. Three weeks before the battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, Daniel and a fellow soldier, promised each other they would pursue their dreams when they returned from duty. His fellow soldier was killed in that battle and Daniel was wounded by shrapnel and bullet fragments. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor.

You might remember a Guest Post about Daniel from my friend Parachute Cutie a while back:

Daniel Rodriguez didn't grow up yearning to be in the military. As a matter of fact, despite his small stature, he set his goals on playing Division I college football.  In his senior year of high school he was captain of the football team.  The team had a 6-4 record and won a share of the district championship.  It was the first time in a decade that his school's football team went to a state playoff game.

However, not unlike many youth in our nation, during his teens his parents split. In his junior year of high school his mother had left the family and moved from Virginia to Texas.  A year later his father died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Within three weeks of his father's death Dan was at a recruiter's office signing up to join the Army.  Any plans he had to play college football were put on hold if not forgotten.

You should go read both of those links above, and make it over to the USAA Facebook page to vote.  I will say that I have also met another finalist, and he was an outstanding individual, so be sure to read all the bios and cast your vote based on that!


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.