“Its veterans. It’s kids and it’s community.”
In 2016, former VP of NFL Officiating and current FOX sports rules analyst, Mike Pereria founded Battlefields to Ballfields
Their mission: To help veterans who may be having a difficult time returning to civilian life by giving them a new team to be a part of.
“You think about their commitment, concentration, courage and teamwork. Then I’m thinking, wait a minute, when I ran the NFL officiating program that’s what I looked for in officials,” smiled Periera.
The non-profit foundation provides veterans with a scholarship to become a referee.
The average cost to getting a vet “field ready’ is about 15 hundred dollars.
“Your Uniform. Your equipment. Your dues. There’s background checks. There’s finger printing. Association dues. There’s so many things,” said former NFL official Jimmy DeBell.
70 percent of officials quit within the first year. That’s what makes Battlefields to Ballfields such a perfect match. For service men and women, the word ‘don’t’ isn’t in their vocabulary.
“They don’t know how to give up,” added Debell. “Through the B2B program we have a 100 percent return.”
“When you ask them what they miss most about the service they tell you, their team. Their buddies,” said Pereira. “They miss serving.”
“It’s just being around the game. To be with some fellow veterans is cool and to have that brotherhood again,” smiled Ret. USMC Corporal Andrew Buczak.
DeBell and Pereira describe B2B as a win-win. For the veterans and the community.
To find more information on how to get involved go to https://www.battlefields2ballfields.org