In response to a friend downrange, an Army veteran sent a care package in 2010 containing video games in an effort to provide something other than the typical care package with baby wipes, socks and chapstick. That first supply drop, codename “Firestarter,” delivered Call of Duty, Guitar Hero and DJ Hero to forward-deployed troops in Iraq; from there, a mission and Operation Supply Drop (OSD) was born.
That mission has grown significantly and by 2017, the organization has benefited more than 400,000 service members, veterans and family members, as well as NATO-partnered military members.
On July 7, Sailors at the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren Liberty Center were pleased to be a part of the program with a delivery of more than $5,000 worth of video games, Microsoft Xbox systems, Starbucks gifts and cards. The “drop” also delivered board and card games, including the highly sought after “Disgruntled Decks,” a Cards Against Humanity-type game geared towards service members. A number of Sailors were on hand to enjoy the games and snacks provided by Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR).
Stacey Scarabello, MWR marketing manager, was instrumental in bringing Operation Supply Drop aboard NSF Dahlgren.
“There was no better fit in my mind than to have them come directly to our Liberty Center and see where our Sailors spend their time playing games and watching movies while having a bite to eat and socializing with friends after their shift. The great thing about the team at OSD is that they are a mix of veterans, service members, spouses and civilians who are giving back to the military community and can relate to the interests and activities of our active duty service members stationed at NSF Dahlgren. Although the logistics and event were done in a short amount of time, OSD left behind supplies that will leave a positive impact on the Liberty Center long-term,” Scarabello said.
Air Force Staff Sergeants Scott Delphia and P.J. Steblen, volunteers from OSD, arrived from Langley Air Force Base, in Hampton, Va. to present the donations to the Liberty Center. Delphia was introduced to the organization following his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2014. The troops previously assigned in his area of responsibility had left their X-Box game system and one game behind when they returned stateside; Delphia remembered how tough it was trying to get new gear to share and how he wanted to be able to pay it forward. On his return home, he sought ways to create a program with the same mission and it was through that process that Delphia discovered the OSD program and began volunteering. One of the factors that Delphia appreciates most about the organization is that they are providing donations of items that most young service members can enjoy.
“We truly provide the most generationally-relatable support to our servicemembers,”’ Delphia explained.
Operation Supply Drop not only provides entertainment for troops downrange but also provides services such as mentoring through their Heroic Forces program. Heroic Forces programs provide necessary skills and direction to veterans with an emphasis on small groups and networking. The organization works closely with local and regional companies and service organizations to provide a resource for veterans who need to transition into the civilian workforce.
Games to Grunts, launched in partnership with GovX, provides Xbox, Playstation, Mobile, VR and PC video games to active-military, veterans and their families.
According to the OSD website, the “healing power of gaming” is something many military members understand. They state that gaming provided distraction, unit cohesion and built camaraderie downrange; it also allowed troops to stay connected with fellow service members and friends after returning stateside.
In addition to Games to Grunts and Heroic Forces, OSD provides relief to some of the most hard-hit veterans — those who require medical assistance when they have left the field. The OSD program “Respawn” provides medically acceptable therapy through gaming, technology and innovation. OSD has been able to provide support to individual veterans, military medical facilities and Warrior Transition Battalions. According to their website, gaming is proven to positively impact recovery and directly help with cognitive processing, balance, range of motion, psychosocial interaction and overall well-being.
On hand at the presentation at the Liberty Center were Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) Commanding Officer Capt. Michael “Moe” O’Leary and Command Master Chief Jacob Bristow.
“Part of our job is to be invested in the quality of life for our Sailors,” Bristow said. “To have people within the community, as well as military, invest in that for our people is good. It allows our people to see that we care about them not only during working hours but after hours as well.”
O’Leary added his appreciation to the organization as well for their donations and service.
“Thank you to Operation Supply Drop for supporting our sponsored activity on base and for supporting our active duty Sailors, Airmen and Marines at NSASP.”