WWE Tribute to the Troops
The WWE Tribute to the Troops is a televised event held every year since 2005 by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in December around Christmas and Hanukkah. The wrestlers and employees of the WWE travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to honor the United States military. The event features wrestlers from Raw, SmackDown, and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) brands competing in matches against each other. They hold a televised episode of Raw on an open field for any troop member to attend for free. Along the travel, wrestlers and employees stop at autograph sessions and local hospitals to visit those who fight and may have been injured in war. Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital are among the hospitals visited by the WWE employees. The WWE most recently held its fifth annual event, and has their next visit planned for December 2008.
In 2004, USO of Metropolitan Washington awarded the WWE the first Legacy of Hope award for their extensive support of their troops and the USO’s Operation Care Package program. In 2006, WWE received the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Public Service award. It was presented to WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon and other wrestlers. Upon receiving the award, McMahon handed it to wrestler, John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL), noting that the idea of the Tribute to the Troops was his original idea. WWE also received recognition from General Casey, the Commander of Multinational Forces Iraq. The WWE generally stays for three days.
Overall, WWE has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan six consecutive times since 2003. The events are held in December every year, as they are intended to be a holiday treat for the troops. Not every WWE wrestler and employee attends the trips, but any wrestler willing to go may attend, with their brand not considered a factor.