WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 5, 2014) -- One of the things the Army and the National Hockey League have in common is that both organizations are extremely selective about their membership, said the Army's vice chief of staff.

"Only about one-half of one percent of our nation meets the requirements to come into the Army and the other branches of the military," said Gen. John F. Campbell.

Those fortunate enough to serve in either organization also benefit from being exposed to similar values, "teamwork, and an understanding that they're part of something a lot bigger than themselves," he said.

Another shared similarity is that both Soldiers and NHL players make some of the toughest, hard-charging team members around.

"They don't want to take a knee," Campbell said. "They want to keep going. Members of all the services are like that."

The general spoke to the media during the Washington Capitals' "Salute to the Military" night at the Verizon Center here, Feb. 4. The Capitals played the New York Islanders.

Several dozen members of the armed forces attended the game.

That the Washington Capitals would provide a salute to the military and their families is a big honor, Campbell said, especially since the greater Washington, D.C., area is home to so many service members.

Besides thanking Soldiers and their families for their service, Campbell reminded everyone that there are still some 35,000 men and women serving in Afghanistan and that "our main mission is to make sure we provide them with all the resources they need to be able to continue protecting our country."

Campbell admitted to being an NHL enthusiast, and a Caps fan in particular, watching hockey games when time permitted during his multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, also spoke during the Caps game, echoing some of what Campbell said about less than one percent of Americans serving and the sacrifices they've made and are continuing to make.

He described the military as "a wonderful, all-volunteer force made up of men and women from our hometowns and communities, who pick up their families and move wherever we tell them. And they carry on and train and do such great work for our nation. We want to keep our all-volunteer force strong. With the Caps game tonight, it makes us all feel part of this community," he added.

Also adding words of appreciation for the military was Raul Fernandez, co-owner of the Caps, the Washington Wizards National Basketball Association and the Washington Mystics Women's National Basketball Association.

Salute to the Military night "is my favorite night of the season," Fernandez said. "Tonight, we recognize the great work and sacrifices of the U.S. military. It's a real honor. We can't do enough for them."

Fernandez wasn't alone in his adulation of the military. Countless Caps fans that evening walked up to service members and thanked them for what they do.

By the end of the evening, the Caps had lost to the New York Islanders 1-0, leaving the team second-to-last in their division. But Fernandez brought some smiles when he foreshadowed his hopes of better times ahead, saying he looks forward to another Salute to the Military night next year "during the playoffs."

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