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D-backs’ Shelby Miller launches program for active service members

(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — Signing autographs and handing out baseball caps to veterans at a transitional housing shelter in Phoenix on Thursday, Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Shelby Miller launched a program called Heroes F1rst.

Active-duty service members will get four free tickets to every D-backs home games as part of the program. They will also get gift bags with D-backs gear, food and drinks at the games.

“This is something really special, and near and dear to my heart,” Miller said as he was announcing the program.

He made the announcement while visiting military veterans at the MANA House, which stands for Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force.

It is a peer-support organization that offers support services and transitional housing to homeless veterans.

Miller said the program is a tribute to his grandfather, who served in the Army’s First Infantry Division and was a Vietnam War veteran.

He described his grandfather, who passed away last year, as someone who “influenced not only my baseball career but my life.”

“He was always somebody who never missed one of my baseball games,” Miller said.

“He always taught me stuff about life like a father figure would.”

Miller launched the Heroes F1rst program in partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which was working with the United Service Organizations to disperse the tickets to active-service members.

The D-backs also runs another program called Hits for Heroes. As part of that program, the team and Precision Air and Heating will make a donation to the MANA House for every hit this season.

Danelle King, senior program manager for the MANA House, said the D-backs have already “done so much” for veterans at the MANA House.

She said they currently house 49 male veterans.

“Whenever the D-backs stop by – because they have done so in the past for various different events – the guys are so excited,” King said. “It’s very exciting for them to know they’re thought about like this.”

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