WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Army assistant football coach Mike Viti is the winner of the Armed Forces Merit Award.

The award began in 2012 to honor an individual or group in football. Viti was selected on Veterans Day by a seven-person committee made up of Football Writers Association of America members and Armed Forces Bowl officials.

Viti is in his fourth season as an assistant at his alma mater. He co-founded and directs the nonprofit Legacies Alive, whose goal is to support Gold Star families, those families that have lost a member in military service.

A fullback primarily used as a blocker, Viti played for Army from 2004-07 and was a team captain. He served in combat in Afghanistan and earned a bronze star.

After retiring from the military as a captain, Viti made a 4,400-mile (7,100 kilometers) cross-country trek in 2014 dubbed Mike's Hike for Heroes . He walked 1 kilometer for every service member killed in action during the global war on terror, finishing at the Army-Navy game in Baltimore.


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