The 2015 Washington Redskins rookies on Friday, June 5, 2015, visited the USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda, Md.
The Redskins rookies on Friday visited the USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda, Md., where they were joined by active-duty service members and Wounded Warriors.
The Washington Redskins 2015 rookies on Friday afternoon attended the second annual Military Appreciation BBQ at the USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda, Md.
The rookies were joined by active duty service members and their families, as well as Wounded Warriors.
Redskins Salute – the team's Official Military Appreciation Club – was also on-hand, providing giveaways while also hosting a rally.
Among the prizes that were won were a customized football signed by three-time Pro Bowler cornerback DeAngelo Hall and a mini-helmet autographed by former Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss.
Everyone in attendance also received Redskins Salute koozies.
Preston Smith, a second-round pick out of Mississippi State, noticed right off the bat the smiles all the servicemen and servicewomen had on their faces the moment his teammates and he stepped onto base.
"It's great to put smiles on people's faces all over the DMV area and meet a lot of people that are fans from all different places," he said. "It's also great to sight see and go to a lot of different places and to get out since rookies don't know about too many places around here since we just got here not too long ago. It's great to just get out and view different parts of the Reskins Nation."
Smith added that it's especially important to better understand what the country's military members go through on a daily basis.
"It feels great knowing that there's people that serve across the country, in other countries serving for our country, protecting and fighting for our country, and they're a majority fans of the Redskins," he said.
Houston Bates, a college free agent out of Illinois, echoed his rookie teammate's sentiment.
"It's truly a blessing to meet the guys behind the scenes that defend our country and serve it," he said. "It's truly an honor. They might say that it's an honor for them to meet us, but it's reversed. For us to come here and meet the guys that are on the field of duty and on the front lines, it's truly a blessing for us."
Bates said it's also important to get the military members' minds off daily work, even if it's just for a few hours.
"My stepdad was actually a sergeant in the military, so I guess you could say I have a little bit of a background," he said. "But it's not about that, it's just about meeting these guys and brightening up their day if they're having a bad one. A lot of Wounded Warriors here who risk their life every day for us and our freedom, and to pay back for that in any way I can, I'll do whatever I can, meet as many as I can."
Arie Kouandjio, who was originally born in Cameroon, has different experiences than most of his teammates, as he didn't move to the United States until he was eight. That's made him appreciate the efforts of the military even more.
"I mean, these guys fight every day. They're fighting every day, they're fighting right now so that we can do things like play football and stuff like that," he said. "I'm from Cameroon, and not everywhere in the world is like this in America, and a large part of that is because of the servicemen and servicewomen. So I'm just very thankful, and I try to show them appreciation. They get excited when they get to me for whatever reason, so I like to basically give back in that way and give them some excitement and happiness."