Merging Vets and Players

Supporting our Heroes

Merging Vets and Players, or MVP, is a nonprofit founded in 2015 by Fox Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer and former green beret and Seattle Seahawk Nate Boyer to address the challenges that combat veterans and former professional athletes face in transition once the uniform comes off. With chapters in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle and Phoenix, MVP creates an environment where these warriors can share their strength and experience and build fulfilling lives. "Ninety-nine percent of athletes' careers do not end on their own terms," says Nate Boyer, Army Special Forces veteran and former NFL player. "There's usually no Peyton Manning ending, where you win the Super Bowl and ride off into the sunset. It just ends with, 'Oh, damn, I'm cut.'”

MVP brings military veterans and professional athletes together in their respective post-military and off-field careers. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, founders and supporters of MVP made a feature film, Produced by Sylvester Stallone and made with a cast of real veterans and NFL players. At first glance, one might wonder what veterans and professional athletes really have in common. Boyer, who stars in the movie, will tell you there's actually a lot. "When I finished serving, I was struggling," Boyer says. "I got out in 2015. When I was with the Seahawks, I got cut in September 2015. I went from having two uniforms that I identify with, the locker room, the teams that I had to lean on - to just floundering." He talked about his situation with a close friend, Fox Sports personality and athletic trainer Jay Glazer. It was something Glazer heard all the time from athletes who played in the NFL, NHL, UFC and others. They train their whole lives for their sport, and when they step off the field, or out of the rink or cage, they're lost and don't know what to do. Boyer and Glazer decided to bring the two groups together at Glazer's Los Angeles gym, the Unbreakable Performance Center, in the spring of 2016. MVP workouts are more than just exercise, ending their workouts with a "huddle," a real, frank discussion about their lives and the struggles they face.

Trophy West recently sat down and asked Army veteran and MVP member, Zach Mierva, about the impact that MVP has had on him personally.

TWCL: What branch did you serve in and where?

Zach: I enlisted in the Army in 2005 as a medic, and was commissioned as an armor officer in 2009. I have been stationed at Fort Riley, Fort Cavasos (formerly Hood), and West Point and deployed to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was also deployed to Korea from Texas before I  got out of the military in September 2021.

TWCL: Describe a bit about your transition out of the military.

Zach: I was fortunate to go through a very deliberate process of reflecting on who I was and who I wanted to be as I made the jump out. I actually wrote a book about it, which I'm about to release very soon! However, my family and I moved to a totally new area with no jobs and few contacts. I'm so lucky that some wonderful people, including some MVP members, took us under their wing to welcome us to the community here. Without those friendly faces, we would've been totally lost. 

TWCL: How has MVP impacted your life?

Zach: I played college baseball for a bit, then was blindsided when I was cut from the team with no notice. It felt like my identity was stolen. While I didn't play at the professional level like my fellow MVP athletes, I know what it's like to have the pink slip show up in your locker and have everything you built your life around gone in an instant. I am fortunate that I didn't have that when I transitioned out of the army, but I know that feeling of emptiness that vets and players feel when the uniform comes off. If it weren't for the amazing people in various veteran networks I'm a part of, I would have been completely lost. What's worse, I wouldn't have known that I was lost.  MVP has given me an opportunity to help and be helped, and to celebrate successes and vent frustrations without judgment. I am blessed to be able to be around the people of MVP and know that they have my back, and that I have the opportunity to return the favor to them.

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