PLYMOUTH, Mich. - The Veteran Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System will hold its annual "Welcome Home Celebration" event at USA Hockey Arena on Friday, March 3. The event is for active military members, Veterans and their families and is part of USA Hockey's Stars and Stripes Weekend.
All service members and Veterans who RSVP by Friday, Feb. 24, will receive free tickets to the U.S. National Under-18 Team's game against the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League.
As part of the USA Hockey's National Team Development Program's Military Appreciation weekend, the U.S. National Under-18 Team will wear specialty jerseys on Friday and Saturday. These jerseys will be auctioned off online from March 16-April 6 with all proceeds going back to the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
The event is held annually to promote awareness of the VA Healthcare information and community resources that are available to Veterans and their families. More than 20 VA resources and services will be represented at the event.
"VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Transition & Care Management program is excited to be hosting our annual welcome home event with USA hockey," said transition and care management program manager Deb Hinson. "We are looking forward to a fun filled evening celebrating our recently returning combat Veterans, military service members, Veterans of all eras, and their unsung heroes who have supported them along the way, their families & friends. We wanted to focus our attention this year not only to celebrate our Veterans but to also celebrate their families who support them daily in countless ways."
The free game tickets, parking, food and beverages being offered to military families are courtesy of local community sponsors.
The event has expanded this year to include a Family Fun Zone for military families. This will include face painting, Team USA prize packs for children 12 and under, appearances by special character guests and interactive intermission activities.
The night will also include a ceremonial puck drop by select Veterans and in-game and intermission recognition of veterans and their families.
"We are honored to host this event at USA Hockey Arena," said NTDP senior director of operations Scott Monaghan. "Our players, coaches and staff work every day with the American flag in their hearts and we couldn't be more pleased to host an event to support, honor and thank those Americans who protect our freedom."
Non-military members can support the night by purchasing small American flags at the game, participating in the second intermission Chuck-A-Puck, and bidding on the game-worn jerseys online after the game.
Tickets to all USA Hockey National Team Development Program Games are available by visiting the USA Hockey Arena box office located at 14900 Beck Road in Plymouth, Michigan, by calling (734) 453-8400, or visiting USAHockeyArena.com.
ABOUT THE EVENT: The event is sponsored by Foundation for American Veterans, TCF Bank, Renewal by Andersen, Keller Williams Realtors, General RV Centers, M&M Home Care, Matick MV-1, Chase Creative and Comcast.
ABOUT THE NTDP: In 1996, USA Hockey launched a new initiative called the National Team Development Program, originally based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The goal of this full-time development program is to prepare student-athletes under the age of 18 for participation on U.S. National Teams and success in their future hockey careers. Its efforts focus not only on high-caliber participation on the ice, but creating well-rounded individuals off the ice.