American Legion Post 129 will build a Video Game Room to help Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury ( PTSI )

The George P. Vanderveer American Legion Post 129 on Church Road in Toms River has begun a service project to convert the lower portion of the Post into an area that will house a special team   on-line gaming area. It is the hope of the American Legion Post 129 that our veterans, both members and non- members of the Post, who are suffering with PTSI will strengthen their coping mechanisms for stress, improve their social interactions and find a small amount of relief through team play.

In the past 10 years, reports estimate that 17% of the warfighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many are even beginning to recognize that it is not a disorder but an injury.  Therefore in many circles, mine included, we prefer the term PTSI.

Because of the sheer number of veterans returning with this injury and the tools of rehabilitation changing each year there seems to be no one clear-cut way to treat this type of injury. Many are left to suffer on their own or become subjects for the trial and error method in-jesting an array of medications and treatments that for the most part are slow to offer relief.

Because of our lack of understanding and viable treatments many of our solders become severely depressed. Mission 22 estimates that every day right here in the United States 22 veterans diagnosed with PTSI, take their own life.

Many studies have been done on the topic of video games and stress reduction for the general population. One of the most popular ways to take a mental break comes from video games.  Because they are interactive they allow a person to turn off their brain for a while and focus on the story.  This creates positive stimuli as you progress through the levels of the game.  Games like Candy Crush reward the player with in game text that displays positive messages.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, games like Dark Souls, uses the challenge as the reward. These are benefits for veterans who live in a constant fight-or-flight mode.

Gaming helps in reducing not only stress, but depression, social anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder and substance abuse which are all conditions associated with post-traumatic stress injury. PTSI.  Some Army therapists are using video games to help wounded warriors.

It is becoming well documented that playing video games has helped veterans develop coping strategies to manage their physical and psychological stressors.   Much like the veterans who play some type of instrument, playing video games gives them some relief from their anxiety, if only for a few hours.  The avatars they create become an extension of themselves or someone they wished to be and they have full control of the mission.

Multi player online gaming provides a platform for our veterans to interact with each other again. It is extremely important for veterans to be able to authentically connect with others through social activities.  Social support through multiplayer team play is the key to the successes that have been realized.

The operation of this unit will be an acceptable activity for our returning warfighters and veterans and may encourage enhanced utilization of the facility by our younger veterans and their families.

 

Ralph E. Wolff, USN

Finance Officer Post 129

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