CHICAGO (Jan. 26, 2017) – Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) recently joined forces with Stack-Up, a charity organization that brings veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming, to host a game night for injured veterans. While video gaming often carries the stereotype of being anti-social, for many attendees it represented something completely different.
“A lot of people, including myself, love to play games in our free time,” explained Marine Corps veteran Steven Philpott. “I’ve got many buddies who did that on their deployments, and that’s how they stay in touch. I play with a lot of friends on Battlefield and Tom Clancy games, and we do it for the same reason. Think of it as a nine-hour interactive phone call with your closest friends.”
For many veterans, the experiences they had in the military were some of the best of their lives, filled with fellowship, meaning, and direction. But upon return to civilian life, the isolation they face can be one of the most significant struggles wounded warriors deal with. It can be difficult knowing how to overcome that challenge.
Throughout the evening, warriors snacked on food as they gamed the night away on Xbox Ones, playing Titanfall and Call of Duty®, among other games. Steven’s highlight of the night, however, wasn’t on either game – it was wearing a virtual reality headset.
“We got to try the Oculus system. That was the coolest thing – I felt like I cheated on my Xbox,” Steven joked.
During the evening, Steven said one encounter with a Vietnam veteran really changed his view on gaming – and staying connected with his fellow warriors.
“We had one guy who said his biggest regret was waiting until he got old to reconnect with his friends and fellow veterans,” Steven said. “‘I’ve lost a lot of friends’ – that statement really hit me. It made me realize I need to do more to stay connected. Video games are a way do that – and so is attending Wounded Warrior Project gatherings like this.”
In a WWP survey of the injured warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (51.7 percent) talked with fellow Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn veterans to address their mental health issues.
“After I returned from my service, I was depressed, gained weight, and was out of shape,” Steven said. “Worse still, I wasn’t getting along with people. I’ve been to several Wounded Warrior Project events, and they’ve helped me connect with my family and friends again. They taught me how to be a better person and allow the people in my life to see my world – and how other veterans are recovering too.”
When the event was over, Steven talked with a few other attendees about the evening. He said one major element stood out – beyond the food and the fun that was shared.
“We have to look out for one another,” Steven said. “When we’re done in the military, a lot of us go our separate ways, but we need one another. Wounded Warrior Project helps us have fun at gatherings like the game night, but there’s an emotional component. We understand one another, and we recognize that hurt and pain we’ve experienced. You would think it’s awkward to deal with around people you just met, but events like this make it easy – because hurt isn’t what brings us together, it’s the fun, relaxed environment. It’s like a family – we all pick on one another and have some laughs, but we all served together; we’re all equal.”
To find photos from this event, click on multimedia, then images, then the warrior connection and outreach section.
Contact: Mattison Brooks – Public Relations Specialist
About Wounded Warrior Project
We Connect, Serve, and Empower
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP connects wounded warriors and their families to valuable resources and one another, serves them through a variety of free programs and services, and empowers them to live life on their own terms. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.