Operation Supply Drop
By Jack Mandaville
There are certain realizations you come to when you’ve been removed from the military for a number of years. For one, I recognize that the apex of my aggressiveness was as a 21-year-old lance corporal on his third deployment—not only having to confront the tribulations of serving in a combat zone, but also dealing with the tediousness of war that is often overlooked in the over-the-top blood and guts productions of Hollywood.
War is like baseball: every once in a while you’ll need to summon a burst of energy to do your job, but the other 99% of the time you just sit or stand around, scratch your nuts, use copious amounts of tobacco, and bullshit with your friends.
The second thing I’ve realized is that the quality of life for the troops (outside of actual combat operations—those will always suck) has drastically improved since I’ve been separated. This is a good thing, my friends.
There was a time when a platoon of Soldiers or Marines knew exactly what they were going to get when they opened a generically addressed care package: dental floss, People magazines, church literature, bubblegum, etc. And then there were the baby wipes. I’ve seen more fuckin’ baby wipes than sand in the desert. I’m certainly not complaining but, again, you can only digest so much of the same source of entertainment before it becomes as boring as…well, war.
Enter Operation Supply Drop, a non-profit organization that has elevated the care package industry to a whole new level.
“If you’re going to a place like GameStop, would you rather get a couple of bucks for your old game or get it to someone who you know will wear it out,” asks Glenn Banton, an OSD board member.
Banton is leading OSD’s drive to send new and used video games, consoles, and accessories to our men and women serving overseas. The organization, which was started by retired Army Captain Stephen Machuga in 2010, has already raised close to $400k for numerous games and game systems.
“In my day job, I have to ask for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars,” says Banton. “With this, I ask for a hundred or so and it’s huge.”
“Whether I’m talking to a civilian who thinks it’s a good idea or a Soldier who just got one of our games, it’s all positive feedback,” he adds. “It gives our men and women in uniform something to do while they’re overseas.”
Banton, a life-long gamer himself, cites certain studies that show how video games decrease stress and symptoms of PTSD and, with his own experience, how they bring people together.
“You have a bunch of people sitting around with each other in a group completion. That’s the cool part about video games. It gives you camaraderie outside of actually shooting stuff and getting shot at.”
OSD’s latest campaign is called is a funds drive on IndieGogo “8-Bit Salute to Veterans.” From now until November 12th, OSD will be raising money to get care packages out to deployed service-members and wounded personnel stateside.
From their website:
Operation Supply Drop just launched their annual fundraising drive, the “8-Bit Salute to Veterans,” trying to raise as much money and physical donations for the troops as possible to clean out the number of wish lists the charity gets in from men and women of the Armed Forces overseas. Last year, we raised $58,000 in games and gear and definitely made a whole bunch of soldiers feel a lot better about being deployed during the Holiday season! This year, we’re hoping to break our current “high score”!
Operation Supply Drop’s mission is the kind of stuff I wish we had around when I was sweatin’ it out as a young man overseas. Baby wipes are fine for a quick cleanup, but an X-Box and the latest Madden can quell hours of torturous boredom.
For more information on how you can donate your old consoles or games to OSD or donate money for new ones, check out OperationSupplyDrop.org.