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Military appreciation highlights Series opener

Military appreciation highlights Series opener

Military appreciation highlights Series opener
Reprising their roles from two years ago, first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will help get the 107th World Series started Wednesday by participating in Game 1 activities that focus attention not only on the Rangers and Cardinals, but also on veterans and military families.

Major League Baseball will dedicate its biggest stage to community initiatives for the third consecutive year, and the theme of the 7:30 p.m. ET opener in St. Louis will benefit MLB's Welcome Back Veterans program and the White House's Joining Forces support system.

Game 1 will be broadcast by FOX, with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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"We are honored to have first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden join us for the 2011 Fall Classic to recognize the courageous men and women who serve the country as well as their families," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Major League Baseball has raised more than $11 million over the past several years through our Welcome Back Veterans program to help support veterans and their families. The World Series gives us the perfect opportunity to build on this ongoing commitment."

Prior to Game 1, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden, wife of vice president Joe Biden, will join representatives from MLB and the host Cardinals -- including Hall of Famer and Army veteran Red Schoendienst -- at the St. Louis VA Medical Center for a military family appreciation event. In 2009, the First Lady and Dr. Biden joined MLB personnel at a V.A. hospital in the Bronx and then participated in Yankee Stadium Game 1 ceremonies. Stay connected by liking the MLB and Joining Forces Facebook pages, and by following @MLB and @Joining Forces.

Families attending during the day will be the first to view the new Joining Forces and MLB public service announcement that will premiere during Game 1, featuring Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden as well as Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and Rays outfielder Johnny Damon. Both players came from military families.

The PSA will premiere Wednesday on MLB.com, at Busch Stadium, on FOX and MLB Network. There also will be a special pregame ceremony featuring Mrs. Obama, Dr. Biden, veterans and military families.

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden will participate in an interview on the Joining Forces initiative and will answer questions submitted by fans through Facebook and Twitter. The interview begins at 7:15 p.m. ET prior to Game 1.

The first lady and Dr. Biden created Joining Forces to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support military families as they serve our country throughout their lives. Joining Forces mobilizes all sectors of society to give service members and their families opportunities and support.

Welcome Back Veterans is an MLB Charities initiative in partnership with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. It was designed to support returning veterans, particularly from Iraq and Afghanistan, and their family members as they transition to civilian life.

Welcome Back Veterans has awarded more than $11 million in grants to non-profit agencies targeting the greatest needs of veterans and their families, focusing on treatment and research of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. One such beneficiary is the Home Base Program, a collaboration of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital. It is dedicated to providing free and confidential clinical care to military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injury and combat-related stress disorder, as well as support services for their families.

The Home Base Program also provides cutting-edge research and community education programs to decrease the stigma often unfairly associated with these two injuries, which government agencies now estimate affect as many as 30 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Welcome Back Veterans is a public and private partnership designed to augment existing efforts of both the federal V.A. and Department of Defense. The program is financially supported by MLB, as well as by funds raised from auctions of game-used products and the donation of sales from those familiar Stars & Stripes baseball caps worn by all Major League players on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July weekend.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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