In an interview with Russ Pitts on Polygon, Captain Stephen Machuga talks about his efforts to supply deployed troops with video games. We’ve explained before about the mental benefits kids can get from playing video games. As you might guess, gaming provides the same benefits for adults.

Machuga is the founder and sole employee of Operation Supply Drop. An Iraq veteran, Machuga knows first hand how important it is for soldiers to keep busy when they’re deployed—hours of waiting followed by intense action and firefights take a toll on the human mind.

Upon returning from Iraq, Machuga, like many soldiers, had trouble readjusting to civilian life. Video games were a welcome mental relief for a man who had been living on a knife edge for 13 months. When a friend of his re-enlisted, Machuga began sending him care packages of video games—a simple gesture that blossomed into a full-on charity.

Gaming has been shown to provide mental relief—not only can gaming mitigate the effects of depression, some researchers believe that gaming could be used to treat PTSD.

Machuga agrees.  He stresses the importance of keeping busy. Games not only helped treat depression, loneliness, and sadness, but also helped him transition to life back in the States.

Now Operation Supply Drop ships consoles and games to soldiers everywhere. Machuga prioritizes those closest to the fighting. They need the relief more than anyone. As word gets out, more requests come rolling in, and his waitlist is long.

For a man running a rapidly growing charity from his basement, every day is a busy one. Case in point: in 2010 he raised $20,000. The final statistics for 2013 indicate the charity gathered $165,000 in donations of games, consoles, and game-related paraphernalia for soldiers. All of these items need to be safely packed and shipped overseas

2014 has a lot in store for Machuga. He is seeking to expand his operation and streamline the decision process, making it easier to fulfill all those requests.

So what can you do to help?

Operation Supply Drop is actively seeking volunteers for all kinds of things—from local outreach to SEO—as well as donors who can give money or games. Read the thank-you letters on OSD’s website to see the effect the charity has on soldiers abroad. Machuga’s efforts are well-appreciated and as long as there are soldiers overseas or recovering back home, there’s no end in sight for Operation Supply Drop.


This article was written by

Simone de Rochefort is a game journalist, writer, podcast host, and video producer who does a prolific amount of Stuff. You can find her on Twitter @doomquasar, and hear her weekly on tech podcast Rocket, as well as Pixelkin's Gaming With the Moms podcast. With Pixelkin she produces video content and devotes herself to Skylanders with terrifying abandon.