Retired NFL player, Iraq veteran to speak at parade

Ann Cousineau

Retired NFL player, Iraq veteran to speak at paradeJeremy Staat, a retired NFL player, United States Marine, and Iraqi War veteran, will be the keynote speaker in Freedom Park following the 1000 Flag Parade on Saturday, Sept. 8.

“Raising awareness for the veterans of Kern County and America,” is more than a website mission statement for Jeremy Staat. It is a statement that will become obvious when he speaks to crowds in Ridgecrest next week.

“I am really looking forward to seeing the patriotism that encompasses Ridgecrest,” said Staat.

Born and raised in Bakersfield, Staat looked up to his older brother and developed an attitude that “If he can do it, I can do it better.”

That attitude carried him through a 15-year football career and three years in the Marine Corps, both of which took quite a toll on his body.

Staat graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1994 as a four-year letterman in football and a three-year letterman in track and field. He attended Bakersfield College, competing in both football and track and field, and in the spring of 1996 he received a full ride scholarship to play football at Arizona State University. That fall he met a new teammate and friend, Pat Tillman.

While playing at ASU, Staat won multiple awards and played in the 1997 Rose Bowl and the 1997 Sun Bowl games. In 1998 he was drafted in the second round of the NFL draft and began his NFL career by playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

By the end of 2003 he had played enough games to earn his retirement from the NFL in 2004. While looking for the next transition in his life, Jeremy found out that his good friend Pat Tillman had left the NFL to join the Army and had been killed in Afghanistan. This tragic event caused him to begin a soul-searching quest that would ultimately lead him to a new team, and a higher calling.

In 2005 Jeremy left his football career behind to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. Trained as an infantry machine gunner, Jeremy was deployed in March of 2007 to Haditha, Iraq where he was the lead turret gunner during numerous combat patrols.

Upon returning home in October 2007, he began to gear up and train for a second deployment, and then he had sudden attack of atrial fibrillation that sent him to the naval hospital instead. In September 2009, Jeremy was medically retired from the Marine Corps and returned home to Bakersfield, where he married his wife Janelle.

Jeremy began to see the need to educate our country’s youth about what it is like to serve in the military and to be a Veteran. In 2011 he founded The Jeremy Staat Foundation, which he describes as a foundation of inspiration and motivation. JSF provides a veteran-based speaking board to go into schools and speak to youth about what it is like to serve their country, and what it is like to be a veteran.

“I do not feel that it is right to take from our youth, so this is why I started The Jeremy Staat Foundation to give corporations and individuals the ability to donate to The Jeremy Staat Foundation and allow others and myself to speak to the children without taking needed resources away from our youth. I feel that we owe it to the next generation to invest some time and education into their futures. If we do not invest time in them today, they will not invest time in us in the future,” Staat said.

In addition to his work with his foundation, Jeremy plays an active part in many different veteran organizations, and has been actively increasing awareness of Kern County veterans and the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield.

For more information about The Jeremy Staat Foundation, visit the organization on Facebook or at http://thejeremystaatfoundation.org.

Story First Published: 2012-08-29