Columbus Blue Jackets military appreciation
NOV 07, 2013 11:26a ET
Last week, Boll was joined by fellow Jackets James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, and coaches Todd Richards, Craig Hartsburg, and Dan Hinote, as they volunteered at a local Habitat for Humanity MidOhio construction site.
Habitat for Humanity is a foundation that focuses on providing home ownership to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it. They've introduced a program where veterans qualify for extra assistance obtaining a home – earning credit towards their mortgage for each year of service.
"The focus is on providing ‘true’ ownership," said Habitat for Humanity MidOhio CEO EJ Thomas. "Our goal is for homeowners to develop equity, be able to stay in one place, have their own space and have space for their children. We are trying to change people’s lives."
The Jackets spent the afternoon putting up siding and railings on a house that is intended for a military veteran and his family.
"I have a soft spot for the military," Wisniewski said. Both of James Wisniewski’s grandfathers served in World War II. "Whenever I can help them, any time I can give back—especially for a veteran—it’s a no-brainer."
The Habitat project is just the beginning of ways that the Jackets will honor the military this month. With both organizations focusing on helping veterans, the partnership was an obvious one.
"The Jackets are walking the walk – they came with a great attitude, and not bad skills," said Thomas.. "Their involvement isn’t just lip service. It says a lot about the organization and the front office that they encourage this kind of participation."
Assistant Coach Hinote understands why projects like the Habitat build are so important for veterans. Hinote’s father and grandfather both served in the military and he attended West Point with dreams of being in military intelligence before his hockey abilities took him to the NHL.
"I grew up with the ideals of selflessness instilled in me by my dad and grandfather," Hinote said. "The military helps optimize that ideal – that you want to help people and make the world a better place."
In a sport that uses words like battle, sacrifice, and honor, the Jackets find an even deeper respect and appreciation for the men and women who use these words as part of their code serving our country.
"These guys know there’s a huge difference, but our ideals are the same," said Hinote. "Team first, the sacrifice you make for your teammate, to have the heart of a champion. The words and values hold a lot of power for us and those in the military."
Wisniewski knows that focusing on helping those who serve gives him a deeper perspective on the job he does every day.
"We try to win a hockey game, men and women in the military do their job to survive,” said Wisniewski. “I sacrifice my body for a shot; they sacrifice their body by jumping in front of a bullet. They are the real brave ones."
The Jackets will continue to shine a light on those who serve in all branches of the Armed Forces this weekend during their annual "Military Appreciation Night," Nov. 9. As part of the evening’s activities, commemorative camouflage-style jerseys will be available through a charitable auction when the Jackets take on the Islanders at Nationwide Arena Saturday at 7 p.m.
The players will wear the jerseys for warm-ups that night. Wisniewski counts them among his favorites; Hinote is honored to see them on home ice.
"It's such a small thing we do in regard to how much they give us," said Hinote. "I hope veterans understand that it’s our way of saying thank you for everything they do."
In addition to the jerseys, the Jackets plan to salute all those who have served through a variety of tributes. Military organizations will have displays throughout the Arena to offer other opportunities for fans to get involved.
You can join in Military Appreciation Night activities Saturday as the Jackets take on the Islanders at home ice. For more information, or to buy tickets, visit bluejackets.nhl.com.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +