The Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 is nearly upon us and we are gearing up and getting ready to roll out but we are not going alone. As we descend upon LA for a week-long extravaganza of all things video games, we have a few special guests coming along for the ride: our E3 2018 Air Assaults!
We are proud to be able to give back to veterans through our Air Assault program in which we hand-pick deserving veterans and pay for them to attend life-changing video game and geek culture events, whether it be a Comic-Con, an Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), a Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) or even a game developer studio tour. With the help of our local Stacks providing support, we make sure those veterans have a weekend that they will never forget!
The veterans joining us for E3 2018 not only exemplify service, duty, and honor but are also rabid fans of video games! Take a moment and read below to learn more about them.
Stuart Michael Kirkham
Navy Favorite Video Game Franchises/Studios/Publishers: BUNGIE(Destiny), Bethesda(Fallout), God of War, Blizzard(Diablo), Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry) Favorite Streamers: Boogie2988, teftyteft, planet destiny, ms5000watts
“I have been in the Navy for 19 years. I joined the Navy in May of 1999. Just days before Star Wars Phantom Menace was released. After a ten-week boot camp, I was sent to school in Groton, Connecticut. The second half of my schooling was conducted in Bangor, Washington. Since then I have been fortunate to have spent the remainder of my career in the Bangor area. I have served on 4 different submarines. And three shore commands. I plan to retire within the next couple of years.
Gaming has been a part of my life since I was old enough to operate a controller. My first system was an Atari 2600. Since then and many systems later, I use video games as a way to relieve stress and escape to another world. This stress relief was vital to coping with the stress of being out to sea and cut off from any contact with family and friends.
In 2010 my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. That battle continues 8 years later. During her treatments and recovery periods, video games became my biggest source of entertainment and stress relief. Gaming allowed me to be near her in order to take care of her with the press of a pause button.”
Army Reserves Favorite Video Game Franchises/Studios/Publishers: Elite Dangerous, Titanfall/ Respawn, Bethesda.
I enlisted in the Army Reserves at the end of my senior year in Highschool. I shipped out to BCT September 12, 2011, to Fort Jackson, SC. From there I went to AIT at Fort Lee, Virginia to learn my MOS which was 91B- Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic. I was assigned to FSC 463rd based in Wheeling, WV. Shortly after hitting my 5-year mark, I tore my shoulder. It caused a lot of troubles with finances, my relationship with my girlfriend and with my unit. It took a little over a year for me to get things squared away with that and even after surgery and physical therapy I still have good days and bad days with the shoulder.
Outside of the military, I have always been a gamer. I started playing video games as soon as I could pick up a controller. They are a huge part of my life and they have helped me through a lot of life’s challenges. As cliche as this sounds, no matter what was troubling me I knew that I could sit down and travel to amazing worlds and overcome any challenge through video games. Some games even helped me to find ways to overcome challenges I faced in the real world. Video games helped me when I was in the military by offering a topic to talk about with other soldiers as well as to help pass the time.
Lastly, because of my love for video games and how much I think they can help people in many different ways, I attended a college to learn how to design video games. I received some great remarks about some of my work. While I was in school I had assembled a small team that successfully made an animation for a commercial in my hometown. Unfortunately, I had to leave school with about a year left in my degree due to the shoulder injury. I am working on finding my way back to finish my schooling and to one day work on some great games.
Army Favorite Video Game Franchises/Studios/Publishers: Fallout series, Bethesda Favorite Streamers: Kappy
I joined the army in 2004 as a wheeled vehicle mechanic. I deployed 5 times to Iraq and 2 times to Afghanistan. I am now working as a fellow at a non-profit Veteran organization, Upstate Warrior Solution, that helps veterans transition or that is in crisis. I am also a full-time social work student at Limestone College.
British Army Favorite Video Game Franchises/Studios/Publishers: Mass Effect/Platinum/Quantic Dream Favorite Streamers: Strange Mysteries, Thoughty2, Be Amazed
So I joined the Army in 1998. I grew up with a military background as both my Mum & Dad were in the forces. My Mum was in the Army (RMP) and my dad was in the Navy (Royal Marines). My parents helped me to pick a role in the forces that I could take a vocational qualification on to ‘Civvy Street’ so I joined the Royal Engineers. I served from 1998-2005 and it was the greatest choice I’ve ever made in my life. During my service I joined the parachute detachment of Royal Engineers, I became a qualified section medic, signaller and Armoured Engineer driving and manning heavy A vehicles AVRE & AVLAB.
Upon my end of service (signed off) I left and worked in construction utilising my trade I learned and qualified in (Carpenter & Joiner) and whilst working for a company my skills were noticed and my manager guided me into the correct path to becoming a fully verified & certified ‘Construction Manager’ this entailed 5 years at College & University.
Upon completion of my degree (BengHons) I joined the Oil & Gas industry. Everything was going great until I fell seriously ill and had to go to the hospital. It transpires I had a stomach ulcer that perforated and leaked acid from my stomachs into my vital organs. I spent 6 months in a hospital and was released. That was in 2014. I continued to feel ill after and whilst on holiday in 2016 I took seriously ill again in Florida. We decided to return to the UK for treatment and after 16 months of waiting I had a stomach bypass to allow food to exit my stomach, gallbladder removed, hernia fixed and was released on 400mg of morphine with a brace to support my wound.
Since then I’ve been bedridden whilst recovering and received great support from SSAFA and the REA who have provided me with an orthopedic mattress and reclining armchair.
During this time tho I’ve had a total nightmare trying to get the benefits I’m due and they’ve only just been resolved after 20 months.
Gaming has been my only escape during my recovery. It’s allowed me to speak to friends both home and abroad. Gaming has been my only escapism and kept me from losing my mind. They’ve had such an impact I’ve Mass Effect Tattoos to remind me of this time.
We are looking forward to spending time with these amazing people and thanking them for their service. We hope our Air Assaults enjoy E3 as it is certainly an epicenter of video game culture and an experience like no other.
We are also glad to welcome Steven, as our first Air Assault from the U.K.! We hope his time at E3 is everything he is hoping it will be.
Stand by as we will have details of the trip after the convention, as well as some words from our Air Assaults about their experience!
If you’d like to make a donation that helps support our Air Assault program or if you would like to answer the Call To Arms with you own charity stream and help us make an impact during May which happens to be Military Appreciation Month. Hit the link below for intel on how you can sign up today!