Military Members Find Respite in Hockey, Become Winter Classic VIPs - NBC4 Washington

Military Members Find Respite in Hockey, Become Winter Classic VIPs



    Veterans Honored at Winter Classic

    They won't be rooting for the same team but they will have some of the best seats in the house at tomorrow's Winter Classic. As News4's Kristin Wright reports, war veterans from both D.C. and Chicago are being treated to an incredible experience. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014)

    Fifteen veterans will enjoy the Winter Classic Thursday morning just feet from the ice as VIPs for both the Blackhawks and the Capitals. 

    The military members are part of a non-profit called "Hockey Saves" and will be honored by Winter Classic sponsor Bridgestone during the big game. 

    "It's not easy coming back off active duty and trying to acclimate to civilian life. This is a great group of guys and women who understand and get it," U.S. Army Reservist Capt. Russ Litko said.  

    Many of them say they've found respite in the sport, even playing for a club team at Andrews Air Force Base.

    "Playing hockey for me is a chance to blow off steam," Capt. Tristan Fitzgerald with the U.S. Air Force said.

    "It gets your mind off the job or off deployment or whatever you're going through," Airman Dan Dirks said. "It's there for you and it's nice."

    The group will skate on the Nationals Park ice on Friday.

    "It's easy to lace up your skates and be with people that have shared some of the same experiences with you and not really need to say anything," Litko said.