DoD, Nationals Meet to Discuss Future Cooperation

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2006 - The Washington Nationals, a strong supporter of the U.S. military since the Major League Baseball franchise moved to the nation's capital from Montreal before the 2005 season, met here today with Defense Department officials to discuss future cooperation as the team prepares to build a new stadium next to the Washington Navy Yard.

"Before they build a ballpark, this is just an opportunity to get together to see how we may collaborate, how we may cooperate, what the opportunities may be - both the Nationals supporting us and how we might support them," Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said before a lunch meeting with Nationals officials.

The Nationals have done a lot for the military, mainly through their support of DoD's "America Supports You" program, which highlights the ways American citizens and the corporate sector support the troops, England said. The Nationals have hosted wounded troops at games and involved servicemembers in the first pitch and other aspects of the games, he noted.

The Nationals support the troops because it is the right thing to do, and the team's leadership feels it is their corporate responsibility, said Alphonso Maldon, the Nationals senior vice president for external affairs.

"We really respect and value the contributions and the sacrifices that are made by our military forces day in and day out," he said. "We feel very, very strongly about that."

The Nationals leadership always has believed it's important to keep the team involved in the community and to give back as much as possible, Maldon, a retired military officer, said. Supporting the military is a key part of that philosophy, he said.

Through the team's community relations program, Nationals players have visited the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and the Pentagon, Maldon said. He said the team looks forward to continuing its support of the military.

"Our players are really beginning to have a much greater appreciation for the military; we want them to have that appreciation," he said. "We believe that we can help spread the word throughout the communities about why it's so important to support the military forces who are giving us the freedom and protecting this country of ours."

Moving into a new stadium in 2008 will be a big opportunity for the Nationals, and through it, the team's officials look forward to strengthening their partnership with the military, Maldon said.

"We want to really continue to build on the partnership that we have and the relationships that we have with the military," he said. "We want to get the military more involved in what we do now, and we want to be more involved with what the military does."

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