Veterans - Lets Play Hockey Program
We just completed our first Veterans – Lets Play Hockey Program.
It consisted of a total of 20 on-ice sessions between October 1st, 2016 and March 25th, 2017 – 10 Learn to Skate/Skills Development sessions, and 10 scrimmages/games.
Over 80 veterans participated – including several first time skaters.
The program was a huge success. We’ll continue it in the 2017-18 season, adding a Learn to Referee component to the program.
The roots of “Skate For The 22” lay within the New England Eagles Veteran Hockey Club an ice hockey team of approximately 70 U.S. Armed Forces veterans. Following his 15 years of active duty with the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force and after losing three friends and fellow soldiers to suicide, the team’s founder Robert “Bobby” Colliton reintegrated back into civilian life with the all too common emotions of frustration, heartbreak, and a need for change. Bobby was able to find sanctuary in the ice hockey rink. It was in the locker rooms, on the ice, and in the parking lot where nothing else mattered and he was able to forget about all the other burdens he was facing. However, there was something missing. Bobby’s vision was for a hockey team consisting of US Armed Forces veterans, skating at no cost to them. Here veterans would find the support and camaraderie that Bobby found when returning from active duty. Bobby, with the help of other veterans started the New England Eagles Veterans Hockey Club.
Following the success of the New England Eagles, the mission was expanded to creating a foundation to help raise public awareness of veteran suicide, raise money to provide financial and social support for afflicted families, and raise money to support the New England Eagles continued growth. It was within this context that Bobby created “Skate For The 22” to use hockey to reduce the number of Veteran suicides. Through their partnership with the New England Eagles Veterans Hockey Club the Foundation sponsors, charity games, tournaments, and local events to help raise needed funds, awareness, and to provide suicide prevention assistance.
Our goal is to be able to provide ice time and hockey equipment at no cost to our veterans. We thank all of our sponsors who are working to make this possible.