The Bengals have announced tight end Hayden Hurst as the recipient of the team's 2022 Salute to Service Award.
The Salute to Service Award recognizes a Bengals player, coach, legend or staff member for their excellence in appreciation of the military.
Hurst has been a growing national voice in the mental health awareness and treatment community since sharing his own story of personal struggles in 2020. Through producing a video with a message to Marines in support of Suicide Prevention Month, he was introduced to the emotional and psychological challenges faced by military members and has since remained dedicated to veteran outreach.
In 2021, the Hayden Hurst Family Foundation made a $20,000 pledge to Top Dogg K9 Foundation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that trains and pairs service dogs with disabled veterans struggling with mental health challenges post-deployment. This past May, Top Dogg hosted a 2.2-mile Charity Walk to represent the 22 veteran lives lost each day by suicide. The event raised $11,000, which was matched in a personal contribution by Hurst to bring the total to $22,000. The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation also sponsored a Top Dogg service canine, which was named "Hayden."
Hurst, alongside his mother Cathy, worked with Acadia Healthcare in February to fly in a foursome of military patients to participate in the third annual Hayden Hurst Family Foundation Golf Tournament. When the Bengals played the Los Angeles Rams in this year's preseason finale, Hurst partnered with the Cincinnati-based Armed Forces Tickets Association (AFTA) to provide four tickets for an active military member and their family to watch the game at Paycor Stadium.
The Hayden Hurst Family Foundation is actively collaborating with Acadia Healthcare to host military-appreciation events in the Greater Cincinnati area, while also working with the behavioral health science department at the University of South Carolina, Hurst's alma mater, on military engagement projects.
Through the team's award, Hurst will become the Bengals nominee for the NFL's 12th Annual Salute to Service Award, presented by USAA. For the first time in the history of the NFL's Salute to Service Award, fans will have a say in determining the national winner. Fan voting, held on the NFL website, begins Friday, Nov. 4 and continues until Wednesday, Nov. 30. Fans may vote one time per day. Three finalists for the NFL's Salute to Service Award will be determined by the consensus votes of fans, an NFL internal committee, and USAA. The NFL's Salute to Service Award panel will elect the winner, which will be announced during the week of Super Bowl LVII in February.