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Capitals Host Appreciation Night to Honor Troops

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2010 – The Washington Capitals showed their support for America’s armed forces with their seventh annual “Salute to the Military” appreciation night event held yesterday at the Verizon Center here.

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Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Douglas B. Wilson, second from left, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, fourth from left, and other senior officials and honored servicemembers pose with Capitals owners Ted Leonsis, center left, and Raul Fernandez, center right, for a photo during military appreciation night at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., March 4, 2010. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

While the Capitals gained a 5–3 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning, more than 800 service members and their families enjoyed the game courtesy of tickets the Capitals provided free through local military Morale, Welfare and Recreation offices.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Douglas B. Wilson and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli stressed the importance of garnering civilian support for the military and their families during a pre-game reception honoring the military.

“Less than one percent of Americans have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom,” Wilson said. “All Americans need to understand who they are, and that we are all in this together. Military families, the men and women who support our troops are an important part of this country, and we need to give back. Ted Leonsis and the Washington Capitals epitomize that message, and we thank you.”

“Not only does this event salute the troops, but we’re also saluting the military families,” Chiarelli said. “The families are absolutely critical to our troops, and the support of the American people goes a long way.”

The Washington Capitals professional ice hockey team is part of the National Hockey League. Alexander Ovechkin, the team’s star left wing, played on the national hockey team for his native Russia during the recently concluded Winter Olympics in Canada.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis praised the men and women of the U.S. military.

“This is such a small, minuscule payback for everything that our men and women in the services do for us,” Leonsis said. “The sacrifices our men and women do for us make it possible for us to live the life we are accustomed to as citizens. It’s a great honor for us to be able to give something back for everything the military does for us.”

The Capitals honored the troops with special performances and aired military “shout-outs” throughout the game. They also donated several viewing suites for use by Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“A lot of us are still going through surgeries and we’ve got many more ahead of us,” said Wounded Warrior Marine Lt. Col. Keith Schuring. “This gives us a night where we can relax and be with our fellow warriors and just enjoy ourselves.”

Service members attending the event expressed appreciation for the Capitals.

“Tonight has been great,” Army Master Sgt. Andrew Berger said. “Since we’ve been here they’ve really taken care of us. The Washington Capitals are awesome. It’s great to be here to show our support to them as they’ve shown their support for us.”

(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio is assigned with the Pentagon Channel.)

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Biographies:
Douglas B. Wilson
Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli

Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy Petty Officer 2nd Class Elliot Fabrizio of the Pentagon Channel interviews Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, Army Vice Chief of Staff, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., before the Washington Capitals' military appreciation night March 4, 2010. Chiarelli spoke to servicemembers and other officials before the game at a reception hosted by Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby  
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