America wasn't prepared for so many returning vets after WWI — so it created DAV.
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Disabled American Veterans

When U.S. Marine Sam Johnson was on patrol in Iraq, he and his team came across a pressure plate IED.

It hit the front of his vehicle.

Fortunately, everyone survived the traumatic experience. Sam sustained some injuries to his knees, but after a number of surgeries, he was able to recover physically. "I feel good," he said. "Now I can walk downstairs without too much pain."


But as he transitioned out of the military, the next big hurdle was finding a new job — one that he would find as fulfilling as his last.

"I knew I wanted to have a great job," he said, so he turned to DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a nonprofit charity with the mission of providing a lifetime of support for disabled veterans who have made sacrifices for their country. They were holding a job fair in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Often what can be most terrifying for vets is what comes after their service.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

DAV was founded after World War I, a war in which more than 4.7 million Americans served.

At the time, the country wasn’t prepared to deal with the enormous scale of so many newly returned veterans, and it certainly wasn’t prepared to help the 204,000 vets who had been wounded or injured during this brutal conflict.

A wounded American soldier in Neuilly, France, during or shortly after World War I. Image via Library of Congress.

These men needed jobs, access to medical care, and other forms of support, and there was no single government agency like today’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

So groups of veterans with disabilities started gathering together all across the country to help fill that void, raise money for those who needed it, and create jobs for other veterans. Slowly a new organization began to take shape: the Disabled American Veterans of the World War. In September 1920, the organization held its first national caucus, attended by 250 disabled veterans. From there, the organization kept growing.

The attendees of the second national DAV convention. Image via DAV, used with permission.

Of course, a lot has changed over the last century since the DAV was founded. But the organization has never wavered from its core mission: helping veterans and their families get access to the resources and tools they need as they transition back to civilian life.

Today, DAV has more than 1,300 chapters and 1.3 million members across the United States.

Image via Upworthy/DAV.

Every year, they help 1 million veterans — such as Sam — with everything from health care and benefits to rides to medical appointments and other issues as they arise.

They also represent the interests of veterans on Capitol Hill, engage with the public, and, of course, hold job fairs like the one Sam attended in Charlotte where he landed his current job —  a career he is very proud of.

He said, "It gave me the opportunity to interview with these companies and land a job making this world a better place."

Image via Upworthy/DAV.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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