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Over the past year, we’ve seen a great deal of change in our country and throughout the world. Through it all, we’ve remained laser focused on our mission—serving our members. We carry out this mission in a number of ways, but we always draw inspiration from the dedication of the military community.

Through our partnership with the NHL, we’ve been able to share our appreciation for Active Duty members, veterans and their families—whom we know are passionate about the game of hockey. The NHL naturally shares our message of military appreciation as the league creates military moments at key events.

That’s what makes this year’s NHL Stick Tap for Service™ program so exciting. On top of 2022 being a challenging year, these individuals continued to be selfless and charitable with their time and energy. Each story our judges reviewed showed how active veterans are in their communities and with their peers.

Meet the Finalists

Hockey fans know that a tap of hockey sticks between players, on the ice or against the boards, is a sign of approval or applause. With hundreds of great submissions, it wasn’t easy to narrow the finalists down. However, these nominees really stood out. So, with a virtual tapping of the ice in their honor, here are this year’s NHL Stick Tap for Service™ finalists!

Brittney Norman

Brittney is a Marine Corps spouse who has moved around the globe, serving her community and supporting her family along the way. While living in Japan, she was a volunteer phlebotomist with the American Red Cross at Marine Corps Station Iwakuni. She has also worked as a virologist at a non-profit, growing multiple strains of the coronavirus in the fight against COVID-19. She and her husband are advocates and supporters of The Ability Experience, which raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Now living in Texas, she currently volunteers as a billet mom, hosting 2 junior hockey players from the Corpus Christi IceRays, as they chase their dreams away from home for an 8- to 9-month season.

Kyle Rausch

After a 20-year career in the US Navy, Kyle established the Oklahoma Warriors, a hockey team comprising active, retired and disabled military veterans. In just 2 short years, the program has become a home for more than 60 veteran players. Kyle, who is normally a defenseman on the Warriors, will occasionally strap on the pads and tend goal to support his team. As a result of the benefits that come from the spirit of camaraderie surrounding veterans' hockey, the Warriors have even been able to help reintegrate its wounded and disabled veterans back into the civilian community. 

Tony Hillery

The son of a Tuskeegee Airmen Major, Tony used the team building and mentorship lessons he learned from Ice Hockey in Harlem to found Harlem Grown in 2011. This non-profit operates 12 urban farms, encouraging kids to become involved in hands-on urban farming, as well as inspiring healthy habits and providing sustainable access to nutrition in Harlem, NY.

Michael Palmer

A veteran of the US Army, Michael is a founder of several disabled veteran hockey programs in Michigan, including Motor City Veterans Hockey, the Michigan Warriors and the Oakland Warriors Hockey Club. The goal is to provide recreational therapy to disabled veterans in a structured environment tailored to their physical abilities. Currently a lieutenant with the Rochester, Michigan Fire Department, Michael serves as a director for USA Hockey's disabled veterans' programs in Michigan, as well as the veterans' hockey program liaison for the Center for Neurological Studies. He also coaches his daughter's travel hockey team and is currently helping to develop other disabled veteran teams in the state.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see more on our finalists and to stay current with all our NHL Stick Tap for Service™ updates.

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