Gaming for Good: How Esports is Helping Veterans Transition to Civilian Life


With the recent popularization of esports, it’s hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t made contact with this genre of gaming. We’re starting to see a wide demographic of gamers. All ages, nationalities, occupations, and religions converge together to form one worldwide community interested in playing, experiencing, and creating video games.

Among them are those who feel the competitive edge of gaming. With games such as Valorant, DotA, and Overwatch that naturally have a competitive aspect to them, it’s only normal there are players who are a cut above the rest.

These pro players come from many different backgrounds and have opportunities to compete in esports. We can hear about them all the time on the best esports news sites such as and more. However, not many consider that veterans are also part of this gaming space.

Esports can be a key instrument in helping veterans transition to civilian life, especially in the early period. Veterans may face several challenges during this era of their life, including employment, healthcare, housing, relationship, and mental health issues. Gaming has already been proven to have a slew of benefits for both physical and mental health, and that is no less true for this demographic.

In this article, we’ll cover the topic of how esports can be used as a source of benefits and leisure for veterans trying to adapt to a civilian lifestyle.

How can veterans benefit from esports?

There are many pros and cons veterans can face while getting into esports. However, we’ll start with a small list of advantages they can get from dabbling in this industry.

First, it’s important to recognize the strength of the gaming community. Time and time again we have witnessed gamers come together for amazing and noble causes. Whether it be through holding vigils for beloved voice actors or coming together to help devs honor their most loyal fans, there’s no denying the emotions can get high in these situations.

This is exactly the kind of supportive and uplifting community that can also benefit veterans transitioning to civilian life. Even without grandiose and great deeds like these, simply having friends to game with can help with the feeling of loneliness many veterans may feel during this period.

It can also help them establish a sense of belonging and purpose. These are important feelings for any human to have, and this case is no different.

All these activities and more help improve the mental and emotional well-being of veterans turned civilians. Many have found gaming has helped alleviate their symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

Finally, the most unexpected benefit of esports for veterans is the development of skills that help with career opportunities. Soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership skills are ones that are positive and bright additions to any resume.

Challenges Veterans May Face in Esports

Although there are many benefits, it’s hard to ignore the challenges veterans may face during their involvement with esports.

One of the challenges is addiction and excessive gaming, wherein veterans may dedicate too much of their life to gaming. Gaming and esports are powerful tools able to transport us to different times and places with the help of immersion. For some, this may be to a dangerous extent.

However, the most prominent challenge is accessibility. Veterans with disabilities may have trouble adjusting to the world of esports though they may be interested in gaming. Luckily, game developers are starting to include more and more accessibility features in their titles. This opens up a new door for disabled veterans looking to partake in gaming as a leisurely activity.

Stack Up: An Esports Program for Veterans

Most veterans into gaming may have already heard of Stack Up, an esports program that aims to help and support veterans through gaming and geek culture.

Since 2015, this organization’s mission has been to execute programs such as The Stacks, Supply Crates, Air Assaults, and the Stack Up Overwatch Program to help with mental illness and suicide prevention.

In the years they’ve been active, Stack Up has been working to clear the stigma associated with feeling mental health issues and going through troubling times for military personnel. Many veterans have reported positive feelings about the organization. Stack Up has even supported its mission with different studies on the effects of gaming on veterans.

The Future of Esports for Veterans

Although esports programs for veterans are few, they are by no means dwindling. We can expect an influx of different programs for veterans with different needs and capabilities as more of the issue starts to come to light.

This also means increased research in such areas as gaming popularizes among these audiences. Gaming and esports as forms of therapy may be closer than we think!

Finally, this opens up an interesting door to collaborations between esports organizations, game developers, and veterans’ organizations in a way similar to the Stack Up program.


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