How Video Games Are Helping American Veterans

In the face of a potential troop surge in Afghanistan, it’s not a particularly bad time to examine what has been happening to U.S. servicemen upon their return home. Recent years have shown some inherent problems in how veterans adapt to Western society. And in a move that has been a long time coming, video games are contributing to the cause of making this transition easier.

To be sure, several veterans have had great difficulty transitioning into society upon their return from duty. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, there are 9.4 million military veterans receiving Social Security benefits, accounting for almost 40% of the adult beneficiary population. What’s more, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, with roughly double that number experiencing homelessness over the course of the year. These troubling statistics are compounded by the recent economic hardship faced by the world, not to mention the neglect highlighted in 2007 at Walter Reed Medical Center, the army’s top medical facility.

In the face of a severe government budget crunch at the federal and state level, video game publisher Activision Blizzard is looking to help U.S. veterans. Despite a sizeable sales dip in the gaming industry, the company has established the Call of Duty Endowment, named after their popular franchise of military-inspired gamed. The funds for this endowment, which looks to raise awareness about veteran joblessness, will come from sales of the latest Call of Duty game, Modern Warfare 2. The non-profit organization will also partner with organizations to help veterans with much-needed job placement and training. In addition, the endowment’s web site provides a great deal of interesting information and statistics about the problem of homelessness among American veterans.

The need for the Call of Duty Endowment may have never been greater. Other than hurting the livelihood of several veterans, the recent recession has forced severe budget cuts for national groups responsible for assisting veterans in receiving their pension and benefits from the government. With Modern Warfare 2 setting new video game sales records, it could mean a valuable lifeline for thousands of veterans. 

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