by Tattooed_Freak | U.S. Air Force Veteran
Without both the Veteran community and gaming, I would not still be here. I had just retired from the Air Force and left an abusive marriage. I was on my own for the first time since I was 18, broken and alone. I was working with Disgruntled Vets and DV Radio and happened to watch a podcast they did with a Twitch streamer. I ended up jumping back into gaming and also into streaming. At that time, I avoided all human contact where possible. I went to get food/supplies at 2 or 3 AM at the local Walmart to minimize contact with people. I remember being excited to hop on my laptop, using the built-in webcam, and streaming Dead by Daylight, using a dollar store green plastic tablecloth as a green screen. It helped me to find a community in a way I was comfortable with and do it through gaming.
I have been a gamer since I was a kid; I remember playing on the Atari 2600, and then the original NES, games like Punch Out, Mario, Rad Racer, and even things like Nintendo Power, learning the game secrets, and wanting to be a completionist. I began playing online games in the early 2000s; in particular, I was a huge fan of the original Everquest. I even spent time working for them as a GM.
Initially, I worked with the Veteran group I was introduced to and then went on to help found the Team IGY6 Foundation, where we raised money for various Veteran charities such as Mission 22, Aaron’s Gifts from Home, and local events like food drives in the Atlanta area. Around this time, I personally began to fundraise for Stack Up as the founder's story hit very close to home, as during my deployments, I would always use gaming to keep my mind occupied while away from home. One deployment it was a pirated Gameboy Color that had Pokemon on it; another was playing one of the early Madden Football games on my PC that had the GM mode. Over the last five years, the communities I am part of have raised almost $10,000 to help others. I found that many in these communities had the same issues I had and inherently understood those "broken" things within me. I don’t have to try and explain it to them; they just get it.
I still game to keep my sanity and just stay even. I found games like Minecraft and Satisfactory tap into a creative part of my brain that, even as a kid, I used when I would build with Lego (I still build with Lego), and some games like Dead by Daylight and 7 Days to Die are a little more action paced, and keep me in the moment, and not thinking about whatever happens to be stuck in my head. Without finding streaming and the Veteran communities, I would not have met my wife, and I would not wake up every morning to see my son and my stepdaughters.