Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva spoke to the media for the first time all season and the first question he received concerned his decision to have fallen war hero Alywn Cashe, covering up the name of Antwon Rose Jr.
Villanueva says he has no regrets putting Cashe’s name and was not a commentary on Rose but rather to push for Cashe to receive the Medal of Honor.
The former Army Ranger confirmed he got permission from Coach Mike Tomlin to have Cashe’s name on the back of his helmet.
Cashe sustained fatal burns while acting to save fellow soldiers in Iraq in 2005. Members of Congress, Cashe's family, and others have advocated for Cashe's Silver Star to be upgraded to a Medal of Honor. He would be the first Black service member to receive the award for actions during the Global War on Terror.
Rose was fatally shot in a police involved shooting in 2018 after fleeing a traffic stop.
Villanueva says he doesn’t think he is going enough for the veteran community
"I felt that my decision to honor Sargent 1st class Alwyn Cashe was something that was very personal to me due to the fact that in the veteran community, there's a strong push to get him the medal of honor,” said Villanueva.
He added that “the timing was perfect, due to the fact that it gave the lawmakers a little bit of momentum going forward, family’s been waiting 15 years.”
Last week, House lawmakers unanimously advanced a bill to allow the president to posthumously award Cashe the Medal of Honor for the rescue that led to his death. Cashe was originally awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Iraq, but Congress must waive the current policy requiring Medals of Honor to be awarded within five years. Congress has waived that five-year limit in the past and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he supported the move to upgrade Cashe's award.
If he is awarded the Medal of Honor, Cashe would be the first Black service member to receive the award for actions during the Global War on Terror.
“After giving the nomination careful consideration, I agree that Sgt. 1st Class Cashe’s actions merit award of the Medal of Honor,” Esper wrote in August. “Before we can take further action with this nomination, Congress must waive this time limit. Once legislation is enacted authorizing the president of the United States to award, if he so chooses, the Medal of Honor to Sgt. 1st Class Cashe, I will provide my endorsement to the president."
“I feel very thankful to have the support of the veteran community and the background to appreciate the freedoms we all enjoy,” said Villanueva.