The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host thousands of servicemen and women from MacDill Air Force Base's Central Command and Special Operations Command, as well as the 6th Air Mobility Wing, at Raymond James Stadium Thursday night to thank them for their dedicated service to the country and the preservation of its freedom.
The military personnel will attend the team's preseason home opener against the New England Patriots as the Buccaneers' honored guests. In addition to showing their gratitude to these men and women, the Buccaneers hope to strengthen the longstanding relationship the organization has with local military personnel.
That relationship has grown stronger since Mark Dominik was named General Manager in January of 2009. Spearheaded by Dominik, the Buccaneers' military appreciation efforts extend beyond the football field. Among the team's many initiatives are regular visits to the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, appreciation rallies at MacDill Air Force Base and gameday military drives. Also, for the third consecutive year, the Bucs hosted a group of more than 30 veterans from Haley as special VIP guests during the team's Night Practice at Raymond James Stadium.
One of the Night Practice visitors from Haley, Scott Nicholas, summed up his experience with the team and described how much the Bucs' support meant to soldiers like him.
"This was really a unique opportunity and it all means a lot to me," said Nicholas that evening. "This stadium is amazing and this organization is truly one-of-a-kind."
Dominik has been unwavering in his support of the United States armed forces. He is an auxiliary member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4321. He is also no stranger to the patients at Haley, who he visits throughout the year, and he regularly volunteers with the "Helping Hands" program.
In 2011, for the third consecutive season, Dominik's ticket program, "Dominik's Den," will again provide a special gameday experience for military servicemen and women. Last season, in honor of Veterans' Day, Dominik hosted an appreciation rally at MacDill Air Force Base with running back LeGarrette Blount, quarterback Josh Freeman, linebacker Geno Hayes and Buccaneers cheerleaders to thank local military for their service.
The Bucs also hosts military collection drives during one of their regular season home games to gather supplies such as coffee and toiletries for military personnel stationed overseas.
Having a father and brother who served in the Navy, Dominik has centered his community outreach on working with war veterans across all branches of the military. Dominik says he truly respects the individual choices and sacrifices of the men and women who serve our country, and focuses his attention on making sure that they know, as an organization, the Buccaneers appreciate their commitment and dedication to keeping our country safe.
To learn more about the Buccaneers' efforts to give back to the community, visit the "Community" section here on Buccaneers.com.