Lakers Honor Military Veterans
We all know someone that has served in the military, and Veterans Day provides us a chance to simply give thanks.
On Friday morning in Inglewood, head coach Mike Brown led several members of the Lakers staff in saying thank you to hundreds of veterans assembled at the home of the U.S. Vets – Los Angeles for the nonprofit organization’s annual Veterans Day Breakfast.
“My dad was in the Air Force for 23 years, so this touches home for me,” said Brown, proud to call himself a military brat. “I want to be involved as much as I can, whatever I can do for the veterans in any way.”
The Lakers, as part of the organization's Team Up initiative, arrived at 8 a.m. in order to help set up for a breakfast, put on for the veterans at 9 a.m. Brown was flanked by assistant coaches Quin Snyder, Darvin Ham and his assistant, Kyle Triggs; for the next few hours, Brown could at times be seen taking photos and signing autographs, but more often than not sharing stories and laughs.
“This touches home because these guys are the real heroes,” he said. “These guys lay it on the line for us to be able to enjoy the lives that we do, so I appreciate them probably a lot more than they appreciate seeing us with the Lakers.”
Brown even got some advice on his playbook.
“They know more about me and the Lakers and what offense I’m going to run than I think I do,” he went on. “So I may get a few of these guys to come help me once practice starts.”
In addition to the breakfast, the veterans welcomed some special guests, such as keynote speaker Dick Van Dyke (a veteran himself), Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Senator Curren Price. Lakers radio play-by-play voice John Ireland and ESPN SportsCenter’s Neil Everett were also in attendance, respectively spending time talking sports with the former soldiers. Meanwhile, the Laker Girls posed for photos, signed autographs and helped show off L.A.’s most recent NBA championship trophy.
All in attendance were able to get a sense of what the U.S. Vets – Los Angeles center is all about.
“What we do every single day is to ensure that the veterans have a stable, secure environment so that they have the best opportunity to be successful at reintegrating back into the community,” said U.S. Vets – L.A. Director Ivan Mason. “The veterans that we serve are from all over the country, and for the most part, we are the only family they tend to have on holidays. So we as an organization put on events every chance we get to acknowledge these veterans, and if nothing else, to impart that we care about you.”
Mason, himself a veteran, wants to ensure that the veterans know that the service they provided was not in vain. He works extremely hard to obtain funding from various government organizations, such as the Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor, in addition to some state and city funding.
At events like the breakfast, Mason said his veterans are always appreciative of those that come to honor them.
“When the vets see organizations like the Lakers, they get the idea that U.S. Vets are not in this fight by themselves, but supported by other entities,” he said. “They could be doing something else, but decided to come here to honor them, which is really appreciated.”
Mason was quick to articulate that while Veterans Day does provide an important chance to give thanks, it doesn’t take a holiday to show appreciation.
“Be kind to the men and women who have served,” concluded Mason. “Sometimes, you may not know what they may be going through when they come home, or what they experienced when they were out there. But be kind to them while they’re here.”