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Volume 23 No. 13
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Redskins enlist new program to serve military

The Washington Redskins this week plan to unveil a year-round military club that will include free events, counseling services, and other perks for military members and their families. The club, called Redskins Salute, is being offered in conjunction with the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore.

Many sports teams have military appreciation days and initiatives. The Redskins are unique in taking the concept beyond the confines of the season and making it a yearlong effort. The team expects to spend at least mid-six figures annually on the program. Washington has hired a marketing manager to run the club and plans to tout Redskins Salute via print, digital, mobile, social media and local TV.

The team insisted last week the launch of a military appreciation club is not designed to distract from the continued controversy over the franchise’s name (see related story).

“I understand why you are asking that question, but for us, we wanted to elevate all these activities,” said Shripal Shah, the team’s chief strategy officer, explaining the genesis of Redskins Salute. The planning began years ago, he said.

Earlier this month, the Redskins hired Scott McCall, a former communications specialist with the Navy, to oversee the new club as its marketing manager. The club is roughly patterned after the team’s women’s club, Women of the Washington Redskins, which has 78,000 members and started two years ago to give female fans a way to engage with one another all year.

With more than half a million military members in the Washington, D.C., area, Shah said he expects that Redskins Salute membership will surpass the number of members in the women’s club.

Redskins Salute will focus on education, family services, health and wellness issues, and post-services job creation. The first major event of the club is a job fair Saturday at FedEx Field.

The team is making its military program a year-round effort.
Photo by: AP IMAGES

For the USO, the affiliation with the Redskins is natural because the NFL, and Washington’s team in particular, is very popular in the ranks, said Elaine Rogers, CEO of USO-Metro.

Asked about the team name controversy, Rogers described that as outside her purview and said that the USO is thrilled to affiliate with an organization like the Redskins that enables the military group to fulfill its mission of supporting troops. Working with the USO enables the Redskins’ new club to reach onto bases and into airport troop lounges.

Eligibility for Redskins Salute includes all active duty troops, members of the National Guard and Reserve programs, and veterans from all branches of the U.S. military as well as their family members. There is no charge for the club.

The Redskins will continue their ongoing military appreciation efforts alongside the new club. Those efforts include ticket giveaways and player visits to military hospitals. Just recently, Rogers said, 150 military members enjoyed an exclusive visit to the team’s offseason training camp.