New Brunswick

Fredericton Legion hopes to attract younger members with video games

Texas based Operation Supply Drop donated four gaming consoles and dozens of games to the Legion.

Donations of HDMI enabled TVs and cabinets are needed to complete gaming room

Fredericton Legion's chaplin Lisa Greenwood says it's important to reach out to younger vets. (CBC)

The Fredericton Legion Branch 4 is trying something new to attract younger members.

The Texas based charity Operation Supply Drop, which sends gaming gear to military organizations, sent three boxes of video games and gear to the legion. The Fredericton branch is the first legion in Canada to get a donation that included four gaming consoles and dozens of games.

With plans to set up a gaming room at the legion, those involved hope to have multiple gaming stations set up to accommodate many players, and possibly host E-Sports tournaments some day.

Lisa Greenwood, the legion's chaplain said it's important to reach out to younger vets, and make sure they are made welcome at the legion.

"We really want to make this a place where they feel comfortable. Have a place where they can come and hang out and enjoy camaraderie with other soldiers," said Greenwood.

This is a selection of the video games and consoles the Fredericton Legion received. (CBC)
Lori Shepherd is chief creative officer at Cold Furnace Studios, a local game design company. She said it was her family ties to the military that led her to become involved with the program.

"We really wanted to kind of introduce video gaming to the legion," said Shepherd

"I contacted [Operation Supply Drop], told them kind of our game plan...and they were very interested in helping."

Warrant Officer Mark Wheeler is the Sgt. at Arms at the legion, and served in Afghanistan. He said he thinks younger service members will appreciate what the legion is doing

"I think some of the younger veterans are going to have a venue to make a connection, and to see that the legion is actually making efforts to be more valid, more current and more accommodating to them," said Wheeler.

Part of military culture

Wheeler said gaming has been part of the military culture for some time, noting he has played Guitar Hero while stationed in Afghanistan. He said that many soldiers use gaming to pass time on the front lines .

Warrant Officer Mark Wheeler can still remember playing Guitar Hero during downtime while stationed in Afghanistan. (CBC)
"[Soldiers should have] access to video games, access to other avenues of relaxation and enjoyment in their down time. If that's not there, that has a serious impact on morale," said Wheeler.

Wheeler said the vets of today are different than the vets of yesteryear.

Greenwood agrees.

"A lot of them are absolutely confounded by gaming...It's just so far apart from what they know. A lot of them don't even have cell phones let alone smartphones," said Greenwood.

The legion is planning on opening the gaming room in July, but they need more equipment that they are unable to purchase. They are looking for donations of HDMI enabled televisions, and cabinets.