Life is strange sometimes when you think something small can unite something big. Anyone who has a family member in the military, or is the individual in the military, knows the adversities that may come with serving your country. My brother-in-law served two tours; one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. He shares how my letters to him about hockey helped him everyday to find the light when all he saw was darkness out there. He especially liked when I would tell him how certain teams out here were doing well, and of course the ones not doing so well. He would talk to his buddies about it, giving them something to discuss that didn’t involve their current reality. He said that for a few moments, they didn’t think about the dangers they had faced that day with searching IEDs or getting shot at. They appreciated the little bit of “home” that they felt from hearing about hockey alone.
I work for a hockey team, I have some season ticket holders who have family serving and I always ask how their loved ones are doing. I see former members being served the Hero of the Night award right before puck drop. Those are favorite parts of my game day schedule, especially when they come back home to catch a game with their families.
Now think about those who are serving right now, who also have the opportunity to lace them up after a day’s hard work. Think about how for a few hours they get to forget about what they’ve encountered. They’re able to feel like a kid once again and not to worry about their struggles. It’s pretty cool to have a tough sport contribute to us all becoming more united and helping those who serve enjoy a good time watching a truly inspiring game. A few ways to reach out to those serving can be by becoming pen pals or even sending out care packages. You can have hockey be your main topic or even sending some hockey gear for them to be able to play out there or just wear with pride. It would also be great to help at your local Veterans Center, talk to them about what they love about the sport. In the end, even a simple “thank you for your service” goes a long way.