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Charlottesville, VA During Saturday’s home football game against Wake Forest, the Virginia athletics department will again 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. Virginia’s first participation in the program was for the Oct. 13 home football game against Connecticut.

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.

Dean Schwartz has been selected as the serviceman who will be Virginia’s honorary game captain. He will participate in the pregame coin toss with the team captains and will be recognized on the field.

Schwartz resides in Wise, Va., where he is pursuing a degree in business administration at UVa-Wise. He enlisted in the Virginia Army National Guard in February of 2002 and was activated into service twice as a bridge crewmember and combat engineer. Schwartz’s second activation was to Mosul, Iraq. After two months of the deployment he was injured in an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) attack while on a road repair mission. The RPG that struck his vehicle severed his left leg at the knee. Schwartz spent a month at Walter Reed Medical Center and another eight months in rehabilitation.

Since completing his rehabilitation, Schwartz has remained active in a number of sports including cycling, skiing and kayaking. He recently completed the New York City Marathon on a hand cycle. The event marked the first time he ever rode a hand cycle.

“I could not be more proud of my military service,” Schwartz said in the questionnaire for the Wounded Warrior Project. “I have no regrets about joining the military or serving my country in Iraq. I find inspiration in the accomplishments of others in a similar situation as me.”

“We had a tremendous response from the players and coaches in our football program the first time we participated in the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Virginia Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage. “We are honored to have Mr. Schwartz join us for Saturday’s game to help show our respect for the bravery and sacrifice shown by these women and men who 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, aid 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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