Scores of military veterans from across the National Capital Region visited FedEx Field on Nov. 8th, but not to watch the National Football League's Washington Redskins play.
Instead, while the players were taking a week off, veterans of all ages, some with their families, entered the Redskins' burgundy-hued locker room, where they received free health exams, including tests for cholesterol level, blood pressure, body fat percentage and other preventive-care checkups.
The event also featured children's games, candy, and appearances by the team's "Hoggettes" mascots and cheerleaders.
The Redskins conducted the clinic with the help of some health care firms and veterans' groups, said Stephanie R. Baldwin, the team's client services manager.
"Partnering together is a perfect way to get people out here and get them checked out," Baldwin said. "The military veterans do so much for our country. ... It's very important to recognize them."
Army veteran Nicol D. Martin, who was a finance sergeant when she left the Army in 2001 after six years of service, said the Redskins' health clinic was a great idea, as she waited her turn to get her body fat percentage checked via computer. Martin "did well" on her test, according to examiner Ammanuel Haile-Leal.
The Redskins should be saluted for holding a health clinic "for the veterans who've served the country," Martin said.
"For one, you get to see the Redskins' locker room and then, too, you get to have the health screenings," said Martin, a 38-year-old Woodbridge, Va., resident who now works at the Pentagon.
After receiving a cholesterol-level test, retired Navy Cmdr. Robert C. Douglass, 54, and his wife, Sheila, surveyed the bustling locker room. The Douglass' 11-year-old son, Jeremy, was among several other children at an X-Box 360 computer game set just a short distance away.
The Redskins and the other sponsors are to be commended for holding the health clinic, the Navy retiree and Chantilly, Va., resident said.
"I enjoy the fact that people are concerned about veterans' health," Douglass said, adding that the multifaceted event "made it exciting for the family as a whole."
World War II Army veteran and Alexandria, Va., resident Peter P. Evanko, 84, hailed the Redskins as he finished his prostate-specific antigen level screening, a blood test that helps to assess the health of the prostate gland.
"This is a very good thing, not only for a veteran, but I think all people should be taking care of themselves," said Evanko, left the Army at the end of the war with a sergeant's rank after serving in the European theater.
The health clinic "is a great thing for those of us who were in the service, and I thank everybody who sponsored it," Evanko said.
Pharmaceutical, biological and health care company GlaxoSmithKline was one of the co-sponsors of the Redskins-hosted veterans' health clinic, said Howard K. Thomas, a senior federal program manager with the firm.
"We're an active supporter of veterans, and we're very honored to be able to in some small way give back to the people who've so bravely served our country," Thomas said. "They're the ones who protect us."
The war against terrorism has caused Americans to reflect on military veterans' contributions throughout the years and of the efforts and sacrifices of present-day servicemembers, said Bill Bradshaw, 64, a Vietnam veteran, Army retiree and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"They recognize the importance of the job that we do of taking care of America," Bradshaw said.
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