Home run: American Family employee helps other veterans through baseball
American Family’s Josh Combs helps support other veterans through his involvement with nonprofits.
Josh Combs retired from the Air Force in March after 21 years of service, but his current mission involves a baseball glove.
“The game is synonymous with America, and it’s been a part of the military for such a long time,” said Combs, a retired master sergeant in the United States Air Force and a sourcing manager at American Family Insurance.
“The service has a history with baseball, and baseball has a history with the service,” Combs said.
After seven deployments overseas, most recently last year in Afghanistan, Combs has new titles and a new mission.
He’s the assistant coach and first baseman for the Denver Wardogs and director of operations for the nonprofit organization, Forever, Never Forgotten. It’s is a military-based organization that gives back to service members monetarily – through sponsoring service dogs -- and socially – through creating and sponsoring Wardogs baseball teams in the U.S. and abroad.
Under the nonprofit organization’s umbrella, there are Wardogs military baseball teams in Spain, Japan, Italy, San Diego and Denver. Teams seek to provide servicemembers an outlet on the field through building a community of players who have walked similar paths.
Teams play in adult baseball leagues in their geographic areas and set fundraising goals. Combs' team plays about 20 games each year, and last year – their first year – raised more than $5,000 for service member services.
It’s fast pitch baseball with a classic wood bat for that powerful sound when the ball contacts it. To play on a Wardogs team, players must be actively serving in the military, veterans, military retirees or military dependents, like spouses and families.
“Military life can be monotonous, and breaking that up for our players is huge,” said Combs. “Especially overseas, it’s important to be ambassadors for America. It’s about continuing to promote inter-country relationships and provide some sort of entertainment and community for our military and their host nations.”
The goal is bringing people together through the shared experience of the military while giving them an outlet beyond their chain of command, to talk about issues our service members face, get guidance in navigating military life or help navigating Veterans Affairs.
“Our Wardogs know life can change at the drop of a dime. We’re doing this to provide camaraderie, avenues for help where our teammates have people they can lean on. Some are just entering the military and others have seen combat,” said Combs. “The ethos of the military told me find another way to give back, another mission. Doing this is my pleasure.”
About the American Family Insurance group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, The General, Homesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.