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Charlottesville, VA During Saturday’s home football game against Connecticut, the Virginia athletics department will honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have been severely injured during conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the world by participating in the Wounded Warrior Project.

A non-profit organization whose motto is “The Greatest Casualty is Being Forgotten,” the Wounded Warrior Project has partnered with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) to raise awareness in the collegiate community.

Rich Hursh has been selected as the serviceman who will be honored before the game by participating in the coin toss with the team captains and he will be recognized on the field.

Hursh resides in Norfolk and works at Lockheed Martin while also pursing a mechanical engineering degree from Old Dominion University. He enlisted in the Army in September of 2001 and was deployed to Mosul, Iraq in March of 2004. He was injured in a suicide bomb attack on Dec. 21, 2004. Hursh lost his right thumb and suffered serious damage to his right scapula (shoulder) due to the attack. He was in Walter Reed Medical Center for eight months while recovering from the injuries.

In a questionnaire he completed for the Wounded Warrior Project, Hursh was asked, “What do you want to be remembered for?” He answered, “I don’t want to be individually remembered for anything but everyone who has served this nation should be remembered for their sacrifices especially those who gave it all.”

“Frequently our student-athletes are viewed as being heroes, particularly to our young fans,” said Virginia director of athletics Craig Littlepage. “By participating in the Wounded Warrior Project, we are honoring America’s real heroes. There is not a better way to show our respect for the bravery and sacrifice shown by these women and men that make up our armed forces.”

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is a non-profit organization aimed at assisting those men and women of the United States armed forces who have been severely injured during the war on terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world. Beginning at the bedside of the severely wounded, WWP provides programs and services designated to ease the burdens of these heroes and their families and aids in the recovery process and smooth the transition back to civilian life.

“NACDA is proud to be associated with the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Lee McElroy, NACDA president and director of athletics at the University at Albany. “This relationship will allow our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to recognize and honor the men and women who have risked their lives for our well being and assist them on their road to recovery.”

“While stationed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation’s military personnel participated in sports during their downtime and even after severe injury, wounded service members continue to use athletic endeavors as a tool in their rehabilitation,” said John Melia, Founder and Executive Director of WWP. “I am confident this relationship will be rewarding and lasting for the Wounded Warrior Project.”

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