Villanueva reflects on Veteran's Day

Pittsburgh Steelers Arthur Moats, Stephon Tuitt and Alejandro Villanueva visited with veterans at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Veteran's Day means a great deal to Alejandro Villanueva, but so does every other day when it comes to remembering his military service.

"I think about (the) military all the time," said Villanueva, a U.S. Army veteran of three tours of duty in Afghanistan as well as the Steelers' starting left offensive tackle. "I have a lot of friends that are still in the service, a lot of friends that are overseas, so I think about it constantly. This day doesn't mean more than any other day.

"I think in the United States there's huge appreciation for the military and that makes you feel very good about what you're doing. Especially when you go overseas, you come back and you see all the appreciation from the civilian community. It's just a real honor to serve this country."

Villanueva has advanced from active duty as an Army Ranger to a tryout with the Eagles to the Steelers' practice squad to a spot on the starting offensive line in place of Kelvin Beachum, who was lost for the season due to a knee injury on Oct. 18 against Arizona, over the last two seasons.

Villanueva is proud of his service but perceives his second career as unrelated to his first.

"I feel like a football player 100 percent," he said. "When I was in Philadelphia it might have been one of the reasons. It got me a foot in the door. But I don't want to think when it comes to the Steelers that I'm here because of my service.

"I think the military made me a good leader. And I was privileged to have the opportunity to lead men into combat. But I wasn't doing pass sets in Afghanistan.

"It was awesome what I did. I'd be willing to do it again if my country needs me to do it. But right now I'm focused on the Cleveland Browns and I'm very thankful to be a part of this locker room."

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