BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge pastor pulled off one heck of a salute for a group of veterans Wednesday.
Pastor Chad Dinkel of Healing Place Church wanted to reach out and create more opportunities to all of those who have served the country.
"We have heroes that are amongst us that need some help, need some love. They fought for our country and they deserve honor and respect," said Dinkel.
On Wednesday morning, a group of 25 veterans met in from of the Walk-Ons near LSU and took a limo bus to tour Tiger Stadium and the LSU football practice facility.
Dinkel and Dennis Pitre, a veteran, hope this first get together will be the beginning of something much bigger and life changing.
"Give these guys some purpose back," said Pitre. "They were useful there and all of a sudden, they come home and there's nothing for them."
The group, a mix of young and old, were able to bond over the subject of football.
"We have guys that were in Iraq and Afghanistan who all they looked forward to was LSU games," said Pitre.
Their tour started at the practice facility where they saw one of the teams locker rooms. A lot of the men spent their time taking pictures, especially in front of Leonard Fournette's locker.
"Does he play a lot?" joked Dinkel.
In the locker room, the Eye of the Tiger is roped off on the floor.
"We kind of treat this with a little bit of respect in the locker room typically," said Greg Stringfellow, Director of Equipment.
The tour also included a surprise visit from head coach Les Miles, who wanted to stop in and thank the men for their service.
"I told my staff that I would be back at 9:16, so that would allow me 10 minutes to spend with you all," Miles said.
Afterward, he took a group photo, shook hands, and signed footballs for some of the men. "Enjoy yourself," he told them.
"Their sacrifice goes on far past the battlefield," Dinkel said. "One of the guys said this is the best Vets Day he's ever had."
Pitre said often soldiers and veterans are too prideful to open up and say they need help. So by getting them all together, they are hoping to open communications.
"It takes someone who's been there to say, 'Hey I know you're struggling. Come hang out with me today,'" he said.
Pastor Dinkel said the hope is by getting veterans together, they can better adjust to civilian life.