The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joined the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals here yesterday to celebrate military service during the team's annual Military Appreciation Night.
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. spoke at the event following his introduction by the hockey team's majority owner, Ted Leonsis, who's also the chief executive officer of Monumental Sports Entertainment, which co-sponsored the appreciation night.
"There are a lot of great things about the national capital region that we all get to enjoy -- the history of this great city, the museums and the incredible support we receive from this community," Winnefeld said.
"I was here last year; I had the opportunity to experience this great event," the admiral added. "I'm very really delighted and honored, frankly, to be here this evening."
The Capitals wore camouflaged jerseys during the pregame warm-up. Those jerseys would be autographed and auctioned off, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit organization that helps people who have lost a military loved one.
The vice chairman noted that the Capitals distributed 500 free tickets to last night's game to service members and their families, and he expressed gratitude on behalf of troops and their families for the support the organization has provided to the military community.
Leonsis said the Capitals have donated 30,000 tickets during the past 10 years to local military bases.
"Thanks to the whole organization, the management and all the people who work hard every day for this organization," Winnefeld said. "I know what that's like, and we really appreciate what you all do, in addition to your fabulous owner group here, to take care of our military folks here."
The vice chairman noted that it's not just the military that keeps the nation safe. "Our national security apparatus is a partnership between industry and the military," he said, "and it's very, very important that we all remember that."
Winnefeld and Leonsis pointed out that in addition to TAPS, the Capitals support many military support organizations, including the Fisher House Foundation, the USO's metropolitan Washington office, and Our Military Kids.
"We call this a family business in the military," the admiral said. "It's not just about the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen out there every day defending our country. It's about their families, too."
Winnefeld said events such as Military Appreciation Night set the Capitals organization apart from many others.
"It's really special to us when an organization helps us take care of, not only our troopers, but also our families," he said. "So thank you. We look forward to watching the action on the ice tonight."
The Capitals edged the New York Islanders 2-1, securing the victory in a shootout when regulation time and a sudden-death overtime period ended with the teams deadlocked at a goal apiece.