Playing video games often carries connotations of Italian plumbers saving princesses from castles or armored space Marines shooting aliens, but for a group of wounded veterans, it represented an opportunity to heal and rediscover bonds similar to those formed in the military. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and Stack-Up, a charity organization that brings veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming, hosted a special Xbox night for these warriors.
Army veteran and wounded warrior Timothy Samaroo was there, relishing the atmosphere that is familiar to many gamers – loud cheering, lots of good-natured trash talk, and friendships forged and “destroyed” in the crucible of Halo multiplayer.
“I must admit that I am nervous about meeting new people,” Timothy said. “But that feeling goes away quickly at Wounded Warrior Project events. The staff create an atmosphere where it is easy to meet people because they encourage you to be yourself. Then you get to realize that you have a lot in common with the other warriors.”
Like any person who’s held a video game controller, Timothy has his favorite games: Super Smash Bros, Tekken™, and Halo. Yet, he doesn’t call himself a gamer.
“I grew up during a time when video games were just starting to gain momentum,” he said. “I never really adopted it as a hobby. But that may change as I see how much other warriors enjoy it.”
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.
While perhaps not as much of a gamer as his friends in attendance, Timothy noted the gathering captured a sense of fellowship he had been missing in his civilian life.
“I came out for the camaraderie,” Timothy said. “These Wounded Warrior Project gatherings are a really cool resource for wounded veterans, and they’re a great first step in becoming social again. The more you venture out, the better, but it’s easier when you already have something in common with others. And I managed to gain a different perspective on connecting with my teenage son, who loves gaming.”
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.
“This organization has helped me through tough times and connected me with people that changed my life forever,” Timothy said. “Wounded Warrior Project strives to help veterans and the community more than any other organization I have had experience with.”
WWP programs assist injured veterans with mental health, physical health and wellness, career and benefits counseling, and connecting with other warriors and their communities. All programs and services are offered free of charge thanks to generous donors.
To learn more about how WWP’s programs and services are making an impact on the lives of wounded warriors, visit http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/. To find photos from this event, click on multimedia, then images, then the warrior connection and outreach section.
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.