Millions have escaped war and just want to live. This is how we should be talking about them.
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Gates Foundation

There are things that many of us can pick in life, like a career, what we're having for dinner, or a TV channel.

GIF via "Toy Story."


Sometimes, though, you don't have a choice. A lot of us have that in common too.

None of us gets to choose the environment we're born into or what kind of privilege we have (or don't have). It just happens.

It's part of being a person in our big complicated world. It's something we all have in common.

Image via Freedom House/Flickr.

An example: Imagine your home country is in war ... and you have no choice but to escape or risk losing your life.

You don't get a say in that stuff.

That's what has happened to millions of Syrians.

They've had no choice but to get thrown into conflict and turn into a different category: refugee.

The dangerous Syrian conflict is turning millions of lives upside-down as we watch the news from the comfort of our homes. Nearly 3 million Syrians are currently stranded across camps and cities in neighboring countries and 6.5 million are displaced within Syria. Right now.

And for some reason they've lost their identities through it all, now being referred to as things like: refugees, asylum seekers, migrants. Why?

Why not just call them "people"?

It shouldn't take a photograph of a drowned Syrian boy on the shores of the Mediterranean to realize that the people who have been forced to flee their homes are people. They are humans who deserve compassion, respect, and the right to safety.

Maybe it's time we started treating and thinking of refugees as real people ... because they are.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that 2,500 people have died just this past summer on the journey across the Mediterranean in search of safety. That's 2,500 too many.

They are all people, just like you and me.

On Sept. 30, 2015, our world leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York to discuss the ongoing crisis.

We must call on them to lend support to our fellow people who are fleeing their war-torn countries. If we don't put pressure on them, they have no reason to take it seriously.

Doing one of these two things (or both if you have an extra second!) can be the difference between showing that you care — or don't.

1) Sign this petition from Call Them People addressed to world leaders.

2) Share this post to get the conversation going — and ask your friends to sign.

There are certain parts of life you don't get to have a choice in. But when you have the choice to stand for what's right and help out your fellow humans, will you do it?

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