Skip to main content

Faithful, Here's How You Can Help George Kittle in His Salute to Service Campaign

Click here to vote for George Kittle as a 2023 NFL Salute to Service Award finalist! Keep reading to learn how you can win an autographed football for voting.

The San Francisco 49ers announced TE George Kittle as their 2023 nominee for the NFL Salute to Service Award presented by USAA, marking his second-consecutive nomination.

The Salute to Service Award recognizes NFL players, coaches, staff and alumni with proven commitment to supporting military and veteran communities. Kittle's appreciation for the military runs deep and is rooted in family with his Uncle Pat and Grandfather Carl among loved ones who've served. Kittle empowers service members by lending his platform and resources to raise awareness and encourage others to overcome adversity.

"On the days (uncle Pat) wasn't there because he was overseas, I could tell how much that affected the family and how big of a deal it was," Kittle shared. "That is one of the main reasons why I try my best to support the military in every way I possibly can because I had an opportunity to see how hard it is on those families when their family members are deployed and away."

Over five years, Kittle has donated over 200 tickets to service members and frontline heroes for nearly every home and away game. Kittle and his family founded the Hidden Pearls Podcast in 2020, amplifying community stories, including those of 45 veterans. Kittle has donated nearly $150,000 to military nonprofits, including those selected by each veteran hosted on HPP.

Since the inception of My Cause My Cleats, Kittle has worked to honor the sacrifices of service members and the efforts of military nonprofits, recognizing the Pat Tillman Foundation in 2018, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors from 2019 to 2021, Merging Vets & Players in 2022 and Operation Freedom Paws in 2023.

Kittle also sustains the relationships he creates from empowering the military community. The tight end hosted Ramon, a veteran experiencing PTSD and Huey, his service dog, at a 49ers practice. Kittle stayed in touch, leveraging his platforms to raise awareness for veterans with PTSD by sharing Ramon's story on the Hidden Pearls Podcast and on his social media channels. Inspired by such stories, Kittle and his family launched Mindful Meditation in 2020, offering free monthly mental health practices to MVP veterans.

TE George Kittle  
**[Operation Freedom Paws](**

Earlier this season in the 49ers Week 10 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a military veteran sporting red and gold in the stands at EverBank Stadium passed along a tribute to "The People's Tight End." Retired Staff Sergeant Chris Kleinsorge gifted Kittle the uniform he wore in Afghanistan. On the uniform, Kleinsorge wrote:

"As the 49ers Salute to Service nominee, on behalf of all military veterans, I want to thank you for all you have done to help my fellow brothers and sisters in arms."

The tight end was also recognized by We Are The Mighty, a veteran-led digital publisher, for their MIGHTY 25 List of 2023 – an annual list to recognize people working in the active duty, veteran and military family spaces who use their voices to affect policy change, improve resources and save lives.

During the 49ers Salute to Service initiative, the team hosted military families and active-duty members at the SAP Performance Facility for a behind-the-scenes practice visit experience. After the practice session, Kittle took the time to personally meet and interact with the military families to show his gratitude and support to those who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces. On the sideline, the tight end took photos and signed autographs for every guest in attendance. Many families gifted Kittle pins of the loved ones they've lost.

"Whenever someone gives me a pin of their lost loved one, I travel with them," Kittle said. "I pin them on one of my travel bags. And whenever I get to the stadium or whenever I'm traveling, they're always with me and they're always in my locker. It's a really special moment that I get to bring them with me everywhere I go, I think of them and they have my back."

Kittle took the initiative a step further, purchasing tickets and inviting 22 veterans and their families from the California National Guard, Irreverent Warriors, Operation Surf and Operation Freedom Paws to the 49ers Salute to Service game at Levi's® Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"It means a lot," Kittle said. "These people have allowed us to do the things that we love to do. The sacrifices that they and their families make constantly, daily, around the world. For us to spend some time with them, it means a lot to both sides."

Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite nominee to help determine the Salute to Service award's three finalists. You can vote for Kittle by visiting from now until November 30. Each fan can submit one vote per day. For the chance to win an autographed football, reply to the @49ers on X with a screenshot of your vote for Kittle!

Salute to Service award finalists will be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards special in February during the week of Super Bowl LVIII.

General manager John Lynch and the entire 49ers roster welcomed active-duty Marines and military families to eat at the team's café, watch practice and interact one-on-one with the players presented by U.S. Bank.

Related Content