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Operation Hat Trick Goes to Washington

June 24, 2009

On Thursday, June 18, UNH brought its Operation Hat Trick (OHT) program to Walter Reed Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where more than 350 OHT hats were delivered to wounded soldiers.

According to the program’s creator, Dot Sheehan, senior associate athletic director for external relations, the original purpose of the program was to distribute hats to wounded soldiers in Veteran Administration and other medical facilities nationwide.

OHT was created by Sheehan after she heard a report about wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan wanting a baseball cap to cover their wounds, scars and bandages.

“It’s really a very basic concept,” said Sheehan. “We’re hoping that other universities along with NHL teams will adopt OHT. Their reward will be a genuine appreciation of those who have valiantly fought for our freedom.”

“It’s amazing what a simple baseball cap can do for an injured soldier. There is return to some sense of normalcy and a piece of American culture given back to these patients,” Sheehan added. “We understand a group of patients liked the hats so much they wore them to a Nationals baseball game on Friday night-that’s the ultimate compliment.”

To date, the VA medical centers in Manchester, West Roxbury, Mass., La Jolla, Calif., and now Walter Reed and Bethesda have hats.

“Since the UNH Alumni Association chapter in Washington, D.C has adopted OHT as their community service project, the logical place to deliver hats was at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval,” Sheehan said.
 
Sheehan was accompanied by President Mark Huddleston, Donna and Steve Hardy, parents of Nate Hardy to whom OHT is dedicated, and Amber Radzevich, assistant athletic director for marketing and communications.

Others joining the group included U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen; Brian Miller, military advisor to U.S. Senator Judd Gregg; Lt. Cmdr.Doug Munz (Navy SEAL); Mike Hickey, Verizon’s vice president of government affairs and national security policy; Maryanne DeMarco, member of the D.C. alumni chapter and executive director of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association.

“Thanks to Verizon, BAE Systems, and The Aspire Group led by Bernie Mullin, we were able to purchase hats for this delivery,” said Sheehan. “It was an unbelievable day. We visited amputees and head injured patients alike and saw firsthand the dedication to country and strength of spirit of these young men. We also experienced incredible caring, respect, and dignity shown to all patients by both staffs. It was incredible what compassion was shown to all; they are clearly in very good hands as they work hard to get well.”

Hats are available for sale online at www.unhwildcats.com, the UNH Bookstore, Hayden Sports, and Town and Campus in Durham.


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