Since its founding in 2008, Vet Tix has provided free tickets to over 550,000 registered VetTixers in the military community.

Robert Hanna is a United States Army veteran living in Connecticut. In June, he was the recipient of the three millionth ticket Vet Tix has ever given out.

This is his story.

“I grew up in Danbury, which is a border town of New York state. I was nine or ten years old and had two brothers who went to Manhattan College … down in the Bronx. Back in the day you were able to do this kind of stuff, put children alone on the train. He would put me on the train on a Saturday in Brewster, and I’d go down to Grand Central Station, my brothers would meet me there and they’d take me to a ballgame at Yankee Stadium. The old Yankee Stadium where they had bleachers, those were the days of Mickey Mantle. The bleacher seats, I don’t know how much they were but they were like a buck. It was very affordable. And in the bleachers you were able to bring in your own alcohol. My brothers being college boys like they were, it was a cheap date for them. But it also got me to the ballgames. Yeah you’re sitting out 430 feet from home plate but … you’re at Yankee Stadium. You may not see Mickey Mantle, but he’s there.”

“As I got older, a buddy and I, we used to go once a year and get tickets to a Met game or Yankee game, it didn’t matter. But they were always in the nosebleeds. I mean, we were sitting way up, and you really don’t get the perspective from up there.”

“So when this opportunity came up, it said ‘dug out seats.’ I’m not sure if you know how Vet Tix works but every month they give you five coins, and each coin is worth an additional entry into a lottery. So when the tickets go up for lottery, I can go in and say ‘alright I want to request two tickets’ and wager however many coins you want to wager.”

“I had 230 coins that I had been saving to try and take my wife to go see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Well, they came to Connecticut but they didn’t offer any tickets to Vet Tix. So the opportunity didn’t arise.”

“I had this friend of mine, we had worked together and had become friends over the years. I’m in the garbage business. I worked with him for about three years, he left, and our paths didn’t cross for a while, but we stayed in touch. He’s the kind of friend that if you need to get something off your shoulders, there’s no judgment, say what you want, that kind of thing. He helps you feel better when you’re feeling bad. If you have something to say you can talk to him and you don’t have to worry about it going anywhere. You can express your feelings.”

“When this opportunity came up … he’s a huge, huge Yankees fan. I called him up and said I have the opportunity to maybe get two tickets, and they’re two dug out seats. If you say ‘yes’, you have to go. And he said ‘in a minute.'”

“I wagered all of my coins to get the tickets, not realizing of course that they were going to be the three millionth ticket [that Vet Tix gave out in their history]. So I call him up and say ‘bam, we’re going.’ All I know is that they say ‘dug out seats.’ I don’t know what that means, but they gotta be pretty good seats.”

“We got there [to Yankee Stadium] and walked in and they put this magic band on your hand. It’s a little piece of paper that says ‘Game 31’ or whatever it was and it just magically opens doors for you. You walk into this restaurant that has 24 different stations of food, anything that you want, and I said to the girl behind the counter ‘geez, there’s no hot dogs.’ And she said ‘if you want a hot dog I’ll go get you one.’ It was crazy.”

“I just can’t describe it. It’s beyond my comprehension. From that little kid that was sitting out in the bleachers, to this.”

“My cupholder was on the back of the Yankees dugout.”