For these troops, something to take their minds off their mission, to allow them a moment of respite during their downtime - a fun distraction - is what they hope for the most. Unsurprisingly, given their age and backgrounds, like most American teenagers and twenty-somethings, video games are among the most popular choice of stress relief and entertainment downrange. Thus, germinated the idea for Operation Supply Drop: a charity that sends video game filled care packages to combat troops deployed around the world.Struggling for years after leaving active duty to return to the “normalcy” of civilian life himself, Stephen, a life-long video gamer, has appreciated first-hand the catharsis of playing video games to escape and enjoy a little stress relief. Hearing of a soldier with whom he had served in Iraq, and who was unable to reintegrate into civilian life, choosing instead to return to the known chaos and danger of Afghanistan, Stephen put together a small care package of something his friend would appreciate: copies of the popular Guitar Hero and DJ Hero video games, procured with help from an acquaintance at Activision. Stephen boxed up the games in a 20x20x20 inch plastic crate, weighing less than 70 pounds (the maximum for care packages sent to the troops) and shipped it to his friend.
“Let’s just say, I was a little worried about what I had started. My friend loved the care package and word spread. Soon I got requests from many other soldiers deployed, asking for some love as well,” remembers Stephen. “Thus started Operation Supply Drop, named after the in-game care packages that get dropped from the sky to help turn the tide or as on-the-spot resupplies in Activision’s popular Call of Duty series of video games.”
To date, Operation Supply Drop has raised over $1.5 million in cash, games, consoles and accessories and has shipped more than 200 supply drops around the world, including to allied troops and to veterans recovering from their combat injuries in hospitals and at home. All in all, more than 4,000 active duty, veterans and their family members have been helped by Operation Supply Drop. Still, more requests arrived than can ever be completed and Stephen had to transition something he did on weekends from his basement to a full time career.