Honor, emotion, and appreciation are some words Cameron Miller uses to describe a moment during a Three Piece Suit Football (TPSF) game at halftime.
“We honored a veteran who played in our first game,” says Cameron. “He missed our second game because he was serving in Iraq. He became overwhelmed with emotion, and had to put his sunglasses on because he was crying, he was so appreciative.”
That sentiment, says the 41-year-old Atlanta, Georgia resident, speaks volumes about TPSF’s impact. As the founder of the fundraiser, Cameron is celebrating the spirit and camaraderie of football while also honoring the sacrifice and service of veterans and military families. Starting in 2009, the event has since turned into a festival that features a game of tackle football, the players donning three-piece suits. According to Cameron, the birth of TPSF and its support of veterans came about as a result of his interaction with the community.
“I was a graduate student training to be a clinical psychologist (and) was doing a lot of work with veterans dealing with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) and other reintegration issues (after returning) back to civilian life. I found it to be meaningful and important working with this population. I’m a big sports and football fan, so my friends and I came up with this idea that aligned with professional pursuits and the people we were supporting.”
With chapters in Atlanta and Boston, Massachusetts, the fundraiser supports those who have fought for and protected the rights that allow the freedoms to host the TPSF event, says Cameron. Raising more than $180,000 for local veteran’s charities, primarily Pets for Vets and Operation Delta Dog, the funds go towards pairing a rescue dog with a veteran suffering from challenges including PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and are just one part of the service being offered to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and fellow countrymen.
“Neither the veterans nor myself or the organization’s volunteers, we’re not looking for that ‘thank you’ or to be put on pedestal, but that unwritten appreciation (shows that people) understand we’ve put a lot into whether it’s military service or making the charity happen. That nod of appreciation, gratitude and respect of sacrifices the veterans have made serving our country and they appreciate that we appreciate and recognize that.”
Cameron is the driving personality behind the organization, says Victor Morency, the Boston chapter president of TPSF, who says their volunteerism serves many purposes, from helping to save veteran lives, to helping save a dog’s life, and also offering a sense of community work to people.
“He’s a very kind and caring person,” says Victor. “(Cameron is) very charismatic, an incredible motivator and leader. He believes very strongly in causes that are important to him, and as volunteers, you gravitate towards him because of the excitement and enthusiasm he has. He always puts his best foot forward.”
Putting his best “foot” forward on the football field and suiting up every game, Cameron used to play quarterback, but now plays in whatever position is needed, joining civilians and veterans before the start of every game to chant,“TPSF, TPSF,” the reminder that the game is being played for a greater purpose. For all of the hard work and stress, Cameron says when he gets a chance to step away and witness the event from a greater distance, it’s all worth it.
“I’ll go up on the hill whenever we are playing, and look through the entire crowd and game. I’ll see people coming together and enjoying themselves for a good cause, and that really feels powerful. We have brought people together to support vets and animals. I have a full time job, I have a life, everyone is busy, but knowing this isn’t about me and this is about being able to help and support others, when it comes together like that, it makes all those sacrifices all worth it.”
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