The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Insurance paid special tribute to Sergeant BJ Ganem during Thursday's Packers-Bears game for 'Operation Fan Mail.'
Ganem began his career in recruitment training for the U.S. Marine Corps in 1996 in Paris Island, S.C. He was then trained in combat skills in the infantry and was stationed at Camp LeJune in North Carolina and Camp Quantico in Virginia during his first four-year enlistment.
After his enlistment, Ganem left active duty to pursue a career with Kraft Foods, but enlisted as an active reservist with a U.S. Marine Corps infantry company in Madison, Wis. In 2004, his unit was activated and sent to the Babil Province of Iraq, where he and his squad were hit by a roadside bomb on Thanksgiving night. Ganem was seriously injured by the assault and was medically evacuated to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
As a result of the ambush, Ganem had his left leg amputated below the knee, and suffered several shrapnel wounds and a traumatic brain injury. After one year of rehab, in 2005, he retired from the military.
Ganem currently works as the Dane County veteran service officer, a role in which he advocates for other veterans in his area by helping to educate and empower all veterans on issues such as benefits, education, health care and employment. He lives in Reedsburg with his wife Sarah and two children, Dylan, who accompanied him to Thursday's game, and Mackenzie. Ganem is also an athlete for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund's Team Semper Fi and a peer mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Operation Fan Mail, which debuted in 2007, is designed to recognize families with a member who is on active duty. The Packers and WPS Health Insurance will host a family at each 2012 home game and recognize them from the field during pregame activities. A total of 48 families have been recognized during the past five seasons.
To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Insurance are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be saluted. Essays can be sent to: Operation Fan Mail, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628. Online is an option: click here.
Families intended for recognition are those that have a member serving on active duty. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or sibling. In addition to being recognized on-field prior to the game, selected families will receive four tickets to the game and a care package from WPS.