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Obama, Pittsburgh Steelers Honor Wounded Warriors

By Donna Miles/American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2009 - What started as a White House tribute to the Super Bowl XVIII champion Pittsburgh Steelers today turned the spotlight to wounded troops and their families.

President Barack Obama and the Steelers joined forces to honor about 50 wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center, along with their families and the USO organization that supports them and other servicemembers worldwide.

“I often say that the beauty of serving others is that anyone can do it,” Obama said. “You don't have to be president, and you don't have to be a pro football player. All you need to do is to have a desire to make a difference, to give back to your community and to contribute to your nation.”

The Steelers joined the servicemembers, military families and USO volunteers to assemble 3,000 care packages for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We're going to give back to those who've given so much for us,” Obama said. “I find that fitting and proper -- a good way to kick off a weekend that serves to honor all the men and women who have worn the proud uniform of this country that we love.”

The Operation USO Care Package program has assembled more than 1.6 million care packages since it began in 2003. The USO sends about 25,000 packages a month to deployed servicemembers.

Among participants in today’s project were Steelers President Art Rooney II, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Super Bowl most valuable player Santonio Holmes and team captains Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, James Farrior and Jeff Reed.