On Veterans Day, the United States recognizes those who fought for their freedom. For Houston Texans long snapper Jon Weeks, it means more to him; it’s family.
Weeks, who grew up as a military brat, saw his father serve 15 years in the Air Force, remembers his grandfather’s fight in World War II and recognizes his close friend who serves. He — as someone who grew up in both New York and Arizona — understands the importance of the holiday; not just for veterans, but for families like his who made sacrifices.
“Veterans day is so important. Not only are we thanking the men and women who served currently and former,” Weeks told The Texans Wire Monday. “But you got to remember how much the family sacrificed.”
Weeks doesn’t just understand the importance of Veterans Day, he also gives back. Recently, he partnered with Carnival Cruise Line to give U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Woodard a free cruise out of Galveston. The Woodard’s were also invited to the Texans’ annual Salute to Service game on Nov. 21.
Weeks’ charitable efforts with Carnival goes further than Woodard’s family. The cruise line donated $25,000 to Operation Homefront to help the organization continue its mission of building strong, stable, and secure military families.
Last week, Weeks was given the Texans’ nomination for the NFL and USAA’s Salute to Service Award. He calls the recognition an honor, one that hits close to home.
“I’m truly blessed to even tie myself into what these men and women do for us on a daily basis. It’s a true honor. I don’t think there is enough I can say about how special it is, about how close to me it hits,” said Weeks. “It’s a huge honor and it’s a privilege. I feel very honored that I was selected.”
In his 10 years in Houston, Weeks and his wife, Amanda, have been a staple at almost every military event the Texans have hosted, including the annual Houston Texans Military BBQ, where the two participated in greeting and serving food to attendees.
“The military community is so special. No one really understands through upset the military people,” said Weeks.
Last Thanksgiving, Jon and Amanda volunteered to serve Thanksgiving lunch to over 200 veterans at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. He will be back in 2019. He calls the opportunity to meet Houston’s military community as an “unbelievable experience.”
“It’s something I’m very passionate about,” said Weeks. “As long as the opportunities to give back are out there, I’m going to give back.”
For Weeks, 2019’s Veterans Day will be spent practicing with his teammates after the Texans’ Week 10 bye. However, he makes sure that he completes his annual tradition: calling his dad, thanking him for his service and his sacrifice to halt his career in order to bring stability to his family.
“Honestly, it’s just a call to my dad, thanking him for what he did, thanking him for his service,” said Weeks on his Veterans Day tradition.
Giving back on Veterans Day does not have to involve a checkbook. Rather, as Weeks states it, it is simply thanking those who served and striking a conversation with them.
“Find your closest veteran possible and just go visit,” said Weeks. “These veterans just love the opportunity to sit down, talk and have a conversation and just talk to people… Find your closest veteran possible and just go hang out with them.
“At the end of the day, I always say I don’t think people thank them enough but, as always, thank you for everything.”