The Tampa Bay Lightning will be hosting their annual Military Appreciation Night presented by Laser Spine Institute on Thursday when the team takes on the New York Islanders at 7:30 p.m. at AMALIE Arena.
Through the Lightning’s Seats for Service program, the team’s generous fans and partners have helped treat 2,500 service members and their families for the game against the Islanders, as well as future ones. The Bolts will also be wearing camouflage jerseys during pre-game warm ups that will be auctioned off later to benefit military charities through the Lightning Foundation. Replica camo jerseys will also be available for purchase at Tampa Bay Sports, powered by Reebok, inside AMALIE Arena.
Tampa Bay will honor military members throughout the game, including a honorary ceremonial puck drop with special guests before the game, including World War II and Korean War Veteran Capt. Jack B. Shaffer, USMC (ret). Fan favorite TSgt Sonya Bryson, USAF (RET), will perform the National Anthem and will be joined by Vietnam veteran Thomas O’Neill. O’Neill served in the Air Force, Army and Navy, as well as the assistant to the secretary of the Navy for 20 years. He also served as the executive assistant to the President of the United States on the previous nine inaugurations. USCENTCOM Joint Service Color Guard will present the colors, while USSOCOM will present a large United States flag on the ice.
A Marines enlistment ceremony will be conducted on the ice during the first intermission with a SOCOM rappel team capping the ceremony. The game’s Lightning Community Hero Blayne Smith is also affiliated with military causes. The Lightning and Chase will also present their 11th mortgage-free home given to an injured veteran through Operation Home Front; Thursday’s honoree is USAF MSgt Joseph Mulgado.
The Bolts, along with the Duncan Duo at RE/MAX and the Red Cross, will also be giving fans the chance to get involved by sending holiday cards to troops overseas with the Cards for Heroes initiative. Fans are encouraged to visit tables located throughout the concourses at AMALIE Arena to send season’s greetings and notes of appreciation to service men and women abroad. The program kicks off Thursday and will run for the remainder of November behind section 118.
Fans will also be able to see military vehicles on Ford Thunder Alley.