World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Booker T. performs before thousands of excited servicemembers at the 2004 "Tribute to the Troops" tour in Iraq. Photo courtesy of WWEAmerica Supports You: WWE Offers Free Tickets to GIs in Uniform
By Monique ReubenAmerican Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 27, 2006 – Servicemembers in uniform can now watch their favorite World Wrestling Entertainment superstars in action free of charge.
World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Booker T. performs before thousands of excited servicemembers at the 2004 "Tribute to the Troops" tour in Iraq. Photo courtesy of WWE (Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
World Wrestling Entertainment is offering all U.S. military personnel from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Reserves and National Guard a complimentary ticket to a live WWE event in their local area, provided they come dressed in uniform with a military ID.
Tickets are available the day of the event. Military personnel can log onto the World Wrestling Entertainment Web site to view a schedule of live events in their area.
"This is a program that is now in place that will continue indefinitely," Gary Davis, vice president of corporate communications for World Wrestling Entertainment, said.
Davis said he realizes many men and women in the military love World Wrestling Entertainment, so the company wanted to figure out a way to show its appreciation for them.
WWE frequently supports U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Davis noted, and officials decided to do something for servicemembers stationed worldwide.
"We wanted to do something on a consistent basis for our troops back home or in different places around the world, where maybe they don't get a lot of attention because they're not in the line of fire," Davis said. "But they're still serving a very important purpose for our country."
Regardless of where they are, many servicemembers seek an entertaining outlet to boost their morale level. Giving free tickets to servicemembers is a unique way for World Wrestling Entertainment to meet this need, Davis said.
Offering free tickets isn't the only way World Wrestling Entertainment supports the troops. WWE superstars pay regular visits to military bases and hospitals.
Davis said the hospital visits inspired World Wrestling Entertainment to offer free tickets to servicemembers.
"It was great to go into the hospitals, but we thought, 'Wouldn't it be kind of fun for the people in the hospitals to actually come out to a show and actually see an event?'" Davis said.
World Wrestling Entertainment is working with Armed Forces Entertainment in an ongoing effort to support the U.S. military.
Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment is a nonprofit group that recruits, schedules, transports and hosts celebrity and up-and-coming entertainers at military installations overseas.
Art Myers, director of Air Force Services, manages Armed Forces Entertainment and has served in the Air Force in a military and civilian capacity for the past 20 years.
"When I was on active duty, I spent five tours in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War; I saw how important the entertainment was as far as enhancing the morale of the troops," Myers said.
A wide range of artists has performed for troops in the past through AFE, including, Kid Rock, Drew Carey, World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers and the Harlem Globetrotters.
Armed Forces Entertainment also is a member of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which showcases Americans' efforts to support servicemembers and their families.
This is not the first time World Wrestling Entertainment and Armed Forces Entertainment have collaborated on a project. Since 2003, WWE has worked with Armed Forces Entertainment during the holiday season to bring some of its most popular wrestling superstars to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For four days, the wrestlers connect with servicemembers on the front lines. The wrestlers sign autographs, talk, sleep, eat and even lift weights with servicemembers. USA network and UPN network broadcast the tour, called "Tribute to The Troops," each December.
"It (the tour) really went well; they were overwhelmed, the troops really liked it," Myers said.
Last year, MSNBC reporter Rita Cosby traveled with World Wrestling Entertainment during its "Tribute to the Troops" tour in Afghanistan, as part of a prime-time news special.
World Wrestling Entertainment will host this year's "Tribute to the Troops" tour in early December.
"It's a very humbling experience to see these men and women in very difficult living conditions on the front lines, knowing at any moment they can come under attack, and to see the spirit that they have, and the positive attitude they have, despite those conditions," Davis explained.
The nationally televised tour combines interviews with the troops and wrestling matches. The goal is to inform the public about the daily lives of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the contributions they're making, Davis said.
This July, World Wrestling Entertainment is scheduled to visit troops on a "handshake tour." The tour, called "The Legends and Divas Tour," will chronicle legendary wrestling veterans Jimmy Hart and Ron Simmons and World Wrestling Entertainment "Raw" and "Smackdown" wrestlers Maria and Ashley as they visit troops in the Middle East.
"We're all looking forward to being able to celebrate our Independence Day with our troops," Davis said.
Last year, World Wrestling Entertainment also became a corporate team member of the America Support's You program.
World Wrestling Entertainment hopes to continue offering free tickets and other support to the men and women in uniform, both home and abroad.
"We're happy that we could identify something that we believe now will be a consistent way to show our thanks to the troops around the world, whether they're in the war zone or not," Davis said.Related Sites:World Wrestling EntertainmentArmed Forces EntertainmentAmerica Supports You