Heroes

I turned off the TV when they showed the river. 1 year later, I've tuned back in, and it's gorgeous.

The chemical spill that prevented hundreds of thousands of people from drinking, bathing in, or cooking with their tap water put West Virginia on the national news. At the time, everyone called it a crisis. Now, the community sees it as a turning point.

I turned off the TV when they showed the river. 1 year later, I've tuned back in, and it's gorgeous.

You might remember seeing this on the evening news on Jan. 9, 2014.

A chemical spill in the Elk River poisoned the water for the city of Charleston and many surrounding communities.


West Virginia has long had an anti-regulation culture. This kind of disaster is what comes from allowing chemical industries to self-regulate. They aren't super good at it.

If this is where the story ended, it would be a downer and a half.

Luckily, there's more to it.

Thousands of people, from all walks of life — including those who used to oppose environmental regulation — suddenly couldn't shower, cook, or wash their dishes. And they got angry.


They held vigils. They joined long-time environmentalists. They demanded some action.

Because they learned that we all live downstream.

And they got results.

The bill that went to the legislature, with their recommendations, passed in both chambers unanimously. The governor signed it.

It probably didn't hurt that the legislators couldn't get a bath either.

It started as a crisis, but it brought the community together. It taught them about their power when they worked as a group.

Because of this chemical spill, people who used to see each other as opponents now see each other as collaborators.

The fight isn't over yet.

There's a bill in the West Virginia legislature that would roll back a lot of those positive actions. The struggle never ends, but at least now there are thousands of concerned, educated citizens paying attention.

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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