Long before Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee in protest during the playing of the national anthem last weekend, Sean Doolittle was giving sincere thought to patriotic displays at baseball games and the surrounding symbolism.

Doolittle, who played with Maxwell in Oakland before being traded to the Washington Nationals in July, is the product of a military family. His father, Rory, served in the Air Force for 26 years and currently teaches aerospace science to high school ROTC students in New Jersey.

During his time in the majors, Doolittle has become a strong advocate for veterans and used his visibility to help them with everything from housing and employment to substance abuse-related issues. In May, Doolittle and his fiancée, Eireann Dolan, wrote a Sports Illustrated op-ed piece to raise awareness of the plight of veterans with "bad paper''-- those who've fallen through the cracks and failed to receive care after less-than-honorable discharges from the military because of alleged misconduct.