So what is this 'The Good in Gaming' segment about? The Good in Gaming looks to highlight some of the downright humbling efforts that people are going to around the world to improve the lives of others, often via the medium of gaming. With the way the world is at the moment, it's sometimes easy to forget that there are good folks out there doing their utmost to care for others, these people are human; not the trolls hiding behind their keyboard, or the salty forum stalker, complaining about a nonsense that has no real bearing on the world. No, these are people changing lives! So whom better to begin this new segment with other than the honorable 'Operation Supply Drop'.
Find out about Operation Supply Drop here in this video:
What is Operation Supply Drop?
Operation Supply Drop (OSD) is an organization that ships out gaming 'care packages' to troops. They "send fun where there is no fun". Partnering with various video game partners they have been able to send out over 500,000 video games in the last six years. However, that's not all, Operation Supply Drop provides some key and vital support for troops on the ground in America. They help returning soldiers transition back into their communities, often through the use of video games. They work with troops on various social issues such as homelessness and unemployment whilst also taking care of their mental health. Given the prevalence of conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in soldiers, it is something that needs lots of attention.
So what does OSD do?
OSD focuses on six key programs, all providing varying functions to help soldiers, both active and returning. By establishing a connection when on duty, OSD can maintain that contact when said soldier returns from duty. OSD can then help support these soldiers through its other programs.
Games to Grunts:
Games to Grunts is a program that provides Xbox, PlayStation, mobile, VR and PC video games to active-military, veterans and their families. Many soldiers know the “Healing Power of Gaming” both from our time deployed where they provided distraction, unit cohesion and built camaraderie as well as when we came home as a way to stay connected with friends. At the time of writing OSD has sent out 213 titles across five platforms, leading to over 500,000 games played.
The Respawn program provides medically acceptable therapy through gaming, technology and innovation. OSD supports individual veterans as well as military medical facilities and 'Warrior Transition Battalions'. Gaming is proven to positively impact recovery and directly help with cognitive processing, balance, range of motion, psycho-social interaction and overall well-being. With over 20 veterans committing suicide each day and hundreds of thousands more fighting their own mental and physical battles, there cannot be limitations for the methods to recovery. Respawn provides equipment and support for transitioning veterans as well as contributes to workshops for medical professionals and occupational therapists wanting to know how they can incorporate additional hardware and software technology into their own practices. Currently, 68% of veterans are wounded through military service. To date, Respawn has impacted 724 soldiers.
3. Grass Roots
Grass roots professional development and mentorship is required to secure the future of the veterans and their families. Heroic Forces programs provide necessary skills and direction to veterans with an emphasis on small groups and networking. OSD works closely with local and regional companies and service organizations to provide resources veterans need to transition into the civilian workforce. With 74% of veterans experiencing unemployment after leaving the military, that is a huge number of people who may need help. Combine that with the effects of potential mental health issues and trouble reintegrating back into society, you can see why there is value in this.
4. Supply Drops
Supply Drops are packed with games, coffee and other entertainment and fun stuff. Through this program, OSD also host and support morale events on installations including homecomings, Thanksgiving meals, Christmas parties and family days. I can only imagine what it might be like to be on deployment but a little care and 'normality' will make all the difference, I'm sure. At the time of writing OSD have sent out 312,702 supply drops to 312 units, which is over 60,000 troops! The Supply Drop program is often the entry point for service members into the Operation Supply Drop community. The more service members OSD can support while active, the more impactful relationships they can build to ensure a smoother transition once entering the civilian space. While deployed, gaming provides opportunities to build unit cohesion and unwind amidst the high stress “hurry up and wait” culture pervasive within the military.
5. Thank You Deployment
The Thank-You Deployment program began in 2014 as a way to express OSD's appreciation for veterans identified by the community as going above and beyond in their service. These experiences span from VIP attendance to popular gaming conferences like E3 Expo and PAX to a day supercar racing, golfing with NFL legends, or a Texas white-tail deer hunting weekend. OSD's goal is to provide the most meaningful experience possible inspired by the requests of nominated veterans.
6. The Teams Program
The Teams stand strong as a force multiplier bringing the veteran community together with a shared purpose. Made up of veterans and civilians alike, the Teams’ leadership and members lead the way in over three dozen cities, serving the local military populations and making an impact through service projects on and off post. To date, members of The Teams have clocked in over 9,000 volunteer hours and have directly impacted tens of thousands of veterans and family members.
Does OSD do anything else?
OSD doesn't stop there. They are an active member in supporting other worthy causes, such as the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Through doing this, they are extending their reach and increasing the likelihood of peer support between veterans, a vital resource. Offering support to those who have been through similar experiences is great tool to helping each other be reintegrate and cope.
Given their impact and success, OSD have been able to network and meet with developers and work with them to help further each others goals. One example is of a visit to Microsoft to discuss accessibility and work together to help further said access to those who maybe couldn't in the past.
Whatever you might think about war and conflict, it is hard not to acknowledge the stellar work that is going on here. Hell, all walks of life can be damaging to our well-being but when you're a soldier out in areas of conflict seeing potentially horrible scenes, a different level of support is needed - both whilst out there and when coming back. I would like to think that this work will inspire other countries to look after their own soldiers in the same way. Though I am acutely aware that other countries will not have the same access to this type of gear or support.
Over 3,500 volunteer hours have been given to OSD. People giving up their time and stepping up and helping out, making a difference to people who are really putting their lives on the line. That is amazing. Making a real impact......how's that campaign against those microtransactions going?
If you want to support OSD you can do so by donating here.
Have you had any experience with OSD? Let us know what you think about OSD in the comments below, the RGM Forums or on Twitter. Feel free to share this article on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest or Reddit to help raise awareness for this very important cause.