Matching Goals: The Puck Stops Here
Warriors and Lawmakers Face Off
The USA Warriors team sported the new DAV logo on a special patch for their jerseys, a nod to the partnership formed earlier this year between the two organizations.
The USA Warriors ice hockey team, a partner of DAV, took on the Lawmakers, a congressional team, in the pair’s second on-ice matchup in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 12.
The Warriors, all service-connected injured or ill service members or veterans, fell 7-3 to the Lawmakers, but there was nothing defeating about the evening for the team.
Army veteran Mark Little, pictured above, is the Warriors’ newly pinned team captain. He lost both legs to an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2007, which could have put an end to his hockey days. The high school and college player said, win or lose, he knows the team’s mission makes an impact.
“Playing hockey lets these guys see that although they have a disability, life hasn’t ended,” said Little. “I’m proud of the program’s ability to take a tragic injury and provide a safe place to experience camaraderie, freedom and a competitive drive alongside my brothers and sisters in arms.”
The Lawmakers roster, all members of Congress or their staffs, included such notable names as Representatives Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) and Mike Quigley (R-Ill.).
Post-game, Quigley said despite the challenges the Warriors face, they have an undeterred spirit and competitive drive. “The same qualities that made them successful in the military, their teamwork, perseverance and determination, make them inspiring competitors on the ice, and I’m honored to be a part of this event.”
The matchup even received attention on the House floor prior to the puck drop. Just hours before lacing up his skates, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) delivered a speech calling on Congress to live up to its responsibility to care for those men and women returning from duty. Higgins commended the USA Warriors for their devotion to injured service members and veterans, also noting the unacceptably high unemployment rate for returning veterans under the age of 24.
“If you really want to say thank you to the veterans on behalf of a grateful nation, let’s nation-build at home and put our veterans to work rebuilding the America they so honorably defended,” said Higgins.
Among the evening’s special guests were Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, as well as DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski.
“This was my first opportunity to come out and see the team in action, and it really speaks volumes to what the program provides these veterans,” said Jesinoski. “They are an incredibly talented group, and DAV is so proud to be partnered with an organization that helps veterans heal.”
The Lawmakers game is the Warriors’ largest single fundraising event for the year, and between ticket sales, donations, a raffle and the silent auction, the team raised more than $11,000 for the program.
The Warriors and DAV entered into a partnership this year and the DAV Charitable Service Trust awarded a grant to the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program to help fund the team’s continued work with injured veterans. As a show of mutual support for the collective mission of serving veterans, the Warriors debuted a patch of the new DAV logo on their jerseys at the Lawmakers game.