It’s Veteran’s Day and as a veteran myself, I wanted to take a moment to shed a spotlight on an organization that does amazing work helping fellow veterans with the power of video games. StackUp.org is a phenomenal group that is passionate about both gaming and taking care of our troops no longer if active service, a group that has helped me in the past as well.
What is Stack Up.org?
Stack Up was founded back in 2015 and is an organization that is comprised of both civilians and veterans alike to provide a tight-knit support system through a shared love of gaming. The org has several programs in place to achieve this vision, including The Stacks, Supply Crates, Stack Up Overwatch Program, and Air Assaults.
What are the different programs?
The Stacks mission statement is: Veterans are our Mission. Gaming is our Passion. Veterans and civilians alike come together for the common goal of providing a rock solid support network. “The Stack-Up mission is brought to life through the people in our community who volunteer their time, talents, and efforts to make the lives of those who have served better,” reads the organization’s official website. “The Stacks unite veterans and civilians to host a variety of events, from group game nights to community betterment projects, to bring about positive change in the places in which they live.
”The Stacks Program gives volunteers the opportunity to develop a range of skills, such as public speaking, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, adaptability, planning and prioritizing work, and more while impacting their community in a fun and positive way.”
Interested in being a part of the base of operations? You can learn more about if a location is near you with the Volunteer Form found right here.
Supply Crates is another faction of this organization, a facet that puts together care packages for both active duty deployed personnel and veterans in need. When I was active duty, I didn’t really have anyone back home that cared where I was, so care packages weren’t a thing I myself experienced, but I did see the joy they gave to others. I also bought myself a ton of goodies while overseas, and the anticipation of knowing it was coming helped those long stretches a little more bearable. My trusted PSP also got me through some interesting times, so this idea of gaming-themed care packages is one that is honestly a solid idea!
We assemble care packages filled with video gaming and nerd goodness to deliver to veterans and active duty service members deployed to combat zones, humanitarian missions, recovery in military hospitals, or even bases stateside in support of any amount of family readiness missions. Supply Crates serve as a preventative measure, aiding to prevent the onset of operational stress by providing a healthy outlet for decompression before there’s a problem.
Instead of focusing on how many days they have left in theater, we want them thinking about setting up an upcoming tournament with their battle buddies. But it goes beyond fun. Scientific studies show Video gaming tied to helping veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, stress, and even pain relief!
Supply Crates are awesome, but the Air Assaults are an awesome facet as well to this organization. While 2020, with COVID-19, has put a major dampner on this particular aspect of the Stack Up organization, Air Assaults provides all-expenses-paid trips for veterans to attend some of the largest gaming and geek culture events out there.
The transition from military to civilian life is hard. I remember the first year returning to civilian life, for me, was one of the hardest I can remember; even harder than deployment itself. The danger, the days without sleep, the constant presence of other people, the structure; all of it becomes your life. To suddenly lose that structure, that comradrie is hard. That year post-service, for me, was the loneliest of my life. I didn’t know how to transition, I felt completely lost. Even still, years later, I always feel like I don’t quite fit in anywhere I am. It’s hard to explain, but it’s lonely even still sometimes. These Air Assault trips are designed to help combat that loneliness:
These trips reduce the threat of isolation by enabling veterans to connect with members of their military family who share their interests, and introduce them to a community of fans and industry professionals who support and admire them. Whether it be a Comic-Con, an Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), a Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) or even a game developer studio tour, we strive to connect, engage, and uplift those who have served our country honorably.
With the help of our local Stacks providing support, we make sure those veterans have a weekend with unforgettable experiences. With gratitude, we hope to bring memories they can look back on with positivity and encouragement for the future.
And finally: the Overwatch program. No, not Blizzard’s Overwatch, this program is designed to target the darker aspect of veteran life, the part that tackles PTSD, depression, and the distress that more often than not leads to suicide. The Stack Up Overwatch Program (STOP) is designed to have the community watch out for one another, providing a critical support system — no matter the time of day — through a certified crisis management team made up of dedicated volunteers.
The Stack Up organization is one that is heavily reliant on volunteers and one that is constantly doing good work. I’ve lost a lot of brothers and sisters to both injury and suicide. I’ve battle with suicide myself, especially when I was active duty and that last year. I was also medically phased out from an injury incurred overseas. Stack Up is an organization I’m proud of and will continue to support. For this Veteran’s Day, we don’t need thanks, we need help. You can learn more about what this community does, and how to help, through its official website.
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