Alex Smith's appreciation for servicemembers grew after injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
November marks the culmination of the NFL's annual Salute To Service campaign in which the league works to honor military members with games and other events.
For Washington quarterback Alex Smith and numerous other players, the opportunity to show support for those on the frontlines is one that is not taken lightly.
“I think it’s something that every single person takes great pride in, in the NFL," Smith said on Tuesday as a part of Washington's virtual tour of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. "Certainly the guys out there, I know how much we appreciated and cherish our military and what they do for us and what they provide for us.”
While Smith, who had grandparents serve in the military, has always had an appreciation for veterans and active members, the quarterback explained that his understanding of their efforts only increased through a personal connection that stemmed from his injury back in 2018.
Suffering a serious leg injury that some considered career-ending and life-threatening, Smith needed medical attention that went beyond standard procedures in the sports world. That led to him being side-by-side with servicemembers recovering from their own injuries.
“During my journey of recovery, obviously after the infection with my leg and the break. My injury at that point was deemed ‘war-like’ enough that I got the Secretary for Defense designation is what it’s called," Smith said. "So I was able to have access down at the Center for the Intrepid down in San Antonio. So I went down to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio three different times and they really consulted on my healing process throughout the last two years.
“It was amazing and humbling to get to go down there and certainly I benefited so much from their knowledge and expertise in the field and probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the center down there," Smith said.
Working through his own rehabilitation process, Smith was able to see first-hand the obstacles many military members and their families face on a daily basis. Just as he was trying to get back on the field, and they were striving to get back to protecting others.
Witnessing that effort, Smith's appreciation for them only grew, making the moments he takes the field on gamedays that honor those serving the country even more special.
“So for me, certainly having the ability to go down to San Antonio and be around a lot of our servicemen and women that obviously were severely injured protecting this country," Smith said. "And really making the ultimate sacrifice for us and how humbling that is to be around these men and women that have really toed the line and how much, how real that is."