SEATTLE — September is National Suicide prevention and awareness month and the military is combating concerning trends of veteran suicide in a number of ways.
On Friday, several organizations teamed up for a unique video game competition to provide some fun and camaraderie.
The organization Stack Up was founded in 2015 and brings veterans and civilians together through a shared love of video gaming. The organization has helped more than 35,000 U.S. and allied military service member get through deployments to combat zones and recovery from traumatic physical and emotional injuries through the power of video gaming.
On Friday, Stack Up held a two-verse-two Call of Duty and one-verse-one Madden Tournament at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Stack up organized the event with Regiment, Americas’ largest Military gaming community.
Chris Earl is the CEO of Regiment Gaming and said he started the organization three years ago as he was transitioning from the Mariner Corps to civilian life.
Earl started Regiment Gaming to provide a lifeline to the many who needed an outlet to relieve stress and anxiety but also to create a new network on bonds and friendship across the country.
“We do gaming but also do outdoor activities like renting boats for fishing, sending Veterans to sporting events and stuff like that.”
Regiment has over 25,000 active members and is partnered with USAA and the American Legion. Earl said Stack Up was able to step up and serve the soldiers at JBLM because of a donation from nonprofit The Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Bob Woodruff foundation was founded 16 years ago when the journalist, Bob Woodruff got injured in Iraq. The foundation supports military families through housing, legal support, employment, and more.
Todd Duso is the Chief Operating Officer for the Bob Woodruff Foundation and said he too found comfort and companionship in video games after his service.
"When I got out I found that one of the things I missed was being a part of that military community — having that uniform on — and I started gaming.”
Duso said PC games helped him for several years after his services.
“I’ve already had several people come up to me today and tell me how much they appreciate getting to do this today,” said Duso.
The Bob Woodruff Foundation provided $50,000 to fund the tournament at JBLM.
Friday's tournament had cash prizes for the top three winners. A gaming PC and Xbox console were also up for grabs. To learn more about Stack Up, visit their official website. You can support the work of the Bob Woodruff Foundation online and Regiment Gaming reminds veterans “You’re never alone. We have your six.”