PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Alejandro Villanueva said his decision to replace Antwon Rose II's name on the back of his helmet "had to do exclusively" with Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe.
"I felt that my decision to honor Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe was something that was very personal to me, due to the fact that in the veteran community there's a strong push to get him a Medal of Honor," Villanueva said Monday.
He says it was perfect timing to give lawmakers "momentum" in giving Cashe a Medal of Honor.
According to the Military Times, Cashe was killed in 2005 while serving in the Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Cashe died while rescuing fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle.
He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. After debate whether his actions warranted an upgrade, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has agreed that he would endorse upgrading Cashe's award to a posthumous Medal of Honor.
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Villanueva said the "decision had to do exclusively with Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe and his pursuit for the Medal of Honor, which is something that he deserves and hopefully he'll get soon."
He also confirmed that he discussed the decision with Mike Tomlin. The Steelers head coach said he would support players in how or whether they decide to express themselves.
Villanueva, a former Army ranger, said "issues that matter to veterans are incredibly important."
"I feel like I don't do enough as an American every day to enjoy my liberties and I feel very thankful to have the support of the veteran community and the background to appreciate the freedoms that we all enjoy," he said.
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