Former UFC middleweight champion and UFC 93 headliner Rich Franklin has joined the Disabled American Veterans organization as a spokesperson and ambassador.
Formal announcement of Franklin's involvement, which will be the basis of a tribute program called "Real American Fighters," will be formally announced on Tuesday (Veterans Day) during his visit to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, DAV officials have confirmed
Franklin has been a longtime supporter of the U.S. military and even left for the Middle East to visit troops in the hours immediately following his UFC 88 victory over Matt Hamill.
Franklin's Real American Fighters program will serve as a "tribute to the men and women of the U.S. military who have been wounded in defense of our freedom," according to the DAV.
The initiative will receive funding from limited-edition American Fighter T-shirts sold by Franklin and the apparel company, which he co-owns. He also recently filmed a public service announcement for the organization, and he will continue visiting disabled veterans on behalf of the DAV while serving as an ambassador between the DVA and the mixed-martial-arts community.
"I believe that no one should ignore, forget or disregard the sacrifice that the men and women who go to battle give," Franklin stated. "When I visit a disabled veteran who has lost a limb or has an injury so severe that their life is changed forever, I think we all need to get on our knees and thank God for these real American fighters."
The DAV formed in 1920 in the wake of World War II. The nonpartisan organization, which represents the nation's disabled veterans, is fully funded through its membership dues and public contributions.
Veterans are eligible for the DAV if they were wounded, gassed, injured or disabled in the line of duty during a time of war. The nonprofit organization, which was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, has more than 1.2 million members.
"The DAV is proud to have Rich Franklin fighting for disabled veterans," stated DAV National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson. "His reputation as a tough, conditioned athlete is overshadowed only by his reputation as a true patriot."
Franklin, 34, next fights Jan. 17 when he meets Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 93. The event takes place in Dublin, Ireland.