<+Garret> Good Evening everyone. Thank you for coming. My name is Garret and I am the Founder and CEO of Stand Down Gaming, Veterans Helping Veterans. It is the mission of Stand Down Gaming, through the use of various tabletop and video gaming media, to use the tools of creativity as a means of healing, support, and inspiration as well as a way to build camaraderie for our Veterans and our communities as a whole.
<+Garret> We currently have around 1300 members on Facebook, all over the world. We cater to Veterans but we accept everyone. Raising Mental Health Awareness is on top of our priority list.
<~Dan> Thanks, Garret! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> How is your organization set up? Is it run via Facebook alone?
<+Garret> Great question! We are not only Facebook. This organization actually started in my basement. 4 friends sitting around and then I said how about we help others like us. Next day I started a Facebook page and started contacting people. We have regular meetups locally and a few others have taken it upon themselves to have regular get togethers in their home towns.
<~Dan> Very cool.
<~Dan> How often do you travel to such meetings away from your home?
<+Garret> While a lot of action does happen online our goal is to open a brick and mortar location that is open 24/7 and manned by Veteran Volunteers. This place would allow Veterans access to Video Games, PCs, Tabletop RPGs, Board Games, Musical Instruments and eventually and on call mental health specialist.
<+Garret> Usually once a week or so we will get together at a local comic book shop and game. We haven’t in a few weeks due to the holidays but since those are over we are getting back on track now. I start a D&D Group on Thursday so that should be fun!
<~Dan> Are the participating veterans mostly those from the most recent conflicts, or do you have any Vietnam vets joining in?
<~Dan> (Howdy, AmbulatoryCortex!)
<+Garret> We have every gambit of Veteran involved with us. One of my friends run The Blackdog Foundation, which is another Vet organization and he is a Vietnam vet. You wouldn’t believe how many older vets love comics and drawings and art in general.
<~Dan> That’s awesome! How does he feel about RPGs?
<+Garret> I don’t believe he plays, he is very busy with his Org and comics.
<~Dan> I’ve heard from various people that RPGs are popular among active military members. Do you find that to be true?
<+Garret> But he does support the group and maybe eventually I can get him to play one with us.
<+Garret> Very much so! At least now that it is much more socially acceptable. I had a hard time finding groups when I was in, but then again I was always busy.
<~Dan> Are there any common themes in the RPGs that vets enjoy, or are they as diverse in their tastes as the hobby at large?
<+Garret> Very diverse! I’ve seen people play Dungeons and Dragons, RIFTS, Shadowrun, BESM (Big Eyes Small Mouth), Pathfinder, Warhammer, Vampire, etc..
<+Garret> I personally will play anything haha
<~Dan> (I need to step away for just a sec. brb.)
<+Garret> A lot of the hobbies veterans choose, at least from my experience, are used to help escape their brains. To get out of their own heads for awhile, or perhaps dig deeper in to them to draw out their character.
<~Dan> (Back, sorry.)
<+danhunsaker> I was lucky to have a great group while I was in the Navy, and we played Mage and Werewolf with one GM, and I ran a BESM 3 campaign for a while, too. It was a great experience, and gave us time to be around each other without the nature of the job intruding for a while.
<~Dan> On a semi-related note — and forgive my ignorance on the topic — are there any subjects in video games and RPGs that tend to be triggering for vets with PTSD?
<+Garret> Well Dan that kind of differs from Veteran to Veteran. Some can’t play modern or military themed RPGs and some can. I really haven’t seen it get out of control when it comes to roleplaying because we are always in a safe environment, now anyhow.
<~Dan> That’s good to hear. My apologies if that was an insensitive question.
<+Garret> We have used roleplaying games as “immersion” support. Put a group into a hostile situation that is recognizable and let them change the course, even if in their head.
<+Garret> Not at all, it was a wonderful question. (done)
<~Dan> Now, is your group just for vets with PTSD, or is it open to vets in general?
<+Garret> The group is open for anyone. Although we do cater do those Veterans with PTSD, Depression, Anxiety or other mental health issues caused from serving in an imminent danger area.
<~Dan> Oh, it’s open to non-vets as well?
<+Garret> We have civilians that are a part of the group and will come hang out and discuss their mental health as well. We have game designers, publishers, all are welcome. We want a loving family environment. Granted with Vets it can get a little R-rated at times.
<+danhunsaker> We can behave, but it’s hard to remember to do so sometimes.
<~Dan> Heh. 🙂
<+danhunsaker> Do you have a good link for us?
<+Garret> I sure do. We can be found on Facebook at: facebook.com/standdowngaming or facebook.com/groups/standdowngaming and our website is currently under construction (Link: http://www.standdowngaming.org)www.standdowngaming.org
<~Dan> Is your group funded by participants, or do you take donations?
<+Garret> We take donations, be it monetary or books, or games or comics, or anything else we can use to improve a Veterans life, even if just for a moment.
<~Dan> How has support been so far?
<~Dan> (Howdy, GrimmgardTodd!)
<+GrimmgardTodd> (Hey hey hey!)
<~Dan> Garret, GrimmgardTodd is one of our regular game author visitors. 🙂
<+Garret> The support has been wonderful! In the last year we have grown so fast and have received many physical donations. A lot of board games and RPG books. I will have to get you the inventory list at some point :).
<~Dan> That would be cool. 🙂
<+Garret> I would love to learn how to use Roll20 and get some games going online.
<+danhunsaker> Ooooh, an excuse to drag out my Roll20 account!
<+Garret> We actually have our own Coffee that NerdFuel created for us. It is called Turbo Button and it is a white coffee, high in caffeine low on the peeing.
<+Garret> And that can be found here (Link: https://nerdfuel.com/collections/coffee/products/turbo-button-white-coffee-12oz?ref=standdowngaming)https://nerdfuel.com/collections/coffee/products/turbo-button-white-coffee-12oz?ref=standdowngaming
<~Dan> Please bear with me here… I’m trying to go outside my usual box to think of questions on this subject. 🙂
<+Garret> At check out if you use the coupon code SDG you will get 10% off.
<~Dan> White coffee? I’ve never heard of that! Wild…
<+danhunsaker> We normally do Q&As about individual games or settings. 🙂
<+Garret> Ohh white coffee is amazing. Can’t be made in a drip maker so we use a French Press. Very low acid level and easy on the stomach.
<+GrimmgardTodd> Coffee based RPG sounds incredible.
<+Garret> No worries at all. What you could do is keep this an ongoing Q&A. I can answer questions anytime, anywhere.
<~Dan> Well, I do hope you know that you’re always welcome to hang out with us, even if you just feel like lurking. 🙂
<+Garret> Yes of course. I need to get in the habit of clicking the link to join haha. Been a long time since I used iRC
<~Dan> Also, as you know, we have a number of game authors coming through here. You might find a lot of them willing to provide you with copies of their games.
<~Dan> We also have a secondary Discord channel that gets some traffic now and then.
<+GrimmgardTodd> I just want to say that this is incredible. I’ve looked over your mission statement and your story, Garret and I love everything about this. I originally tapped into my love for RPGs in a time in my life where I was changing careers, dealing with family and relationship problems…. it wasn’t until I was on the other side of it looking back that I realized.
<+Garret> You know what would be amazing? If the author of the game or a proxy hosted a game we could then turn that into a story or a live event 🙂
<+GrimmgardTodd> Even just creating the game was therapeutic in the ways you describe. I run a Discord server running now 5 game sessions a week. And I have more people in there telling me how they are working through deep depression thanks to the game and the gaming group.
<+GrimmgardTodd> It’s not even escapism… it’s community. It’s bonding and storytelling and looking forward to each new session to pull through tough times and cope with life.
<~Dan> I didn’t know that re: depression, GrimmgardTodd! That’s great.
<~Dan> Garret: You mean host a game local to them with area vets?
<+GrimmgardTodd> You guys are doing an incredible thing. I salute you, we all do, for the love of our veterans.
<~Dan> Well said, GrimmgardTodd.
<+Garret> I appreciate you support! Local, online, whatever works :).
<~Dan> Garret: I’ll put out the word to my contacts in the gaming industry. Maybe we can get you some more contributions of materials!
<~Dan> I’ll mention the game hosting idea as well!
<+danhunsaker> Your organization caters to Veterans with mental health effects from service. How do you use games to make that happen? I’m all for the therapeutic nature of roleplaying, but I’m curious if there’s any sort of structure to how you approach it.
<+Garret> Thank you! A lot of our contributions are PDFs or other digital files.
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Do you have contact info on your website?
<+Garret> We really haven’t dug into the structure yet. I am working with RPG Research company to better approach that.
<+Garret> Yes, there is contact info on the website. If not my personal email address is email@example.com
<~Dan> How far along are you toward getting the physical location you envision?
<+danhunsaker> (do you want that address in the logs, or should we scrub that?)
<+Garret> (keep in logs is fine)
<~Dan> (Oh, good point, danhunsaker.)
<+Garret> Very early stages. We are still seeking a place and then finding the funds to keep it running and the lights on. But like I said we are just over a year old, so no rush. Good things come with time.
<~Dan> How would you make sure that you keep sufficient funding to keep the lights on after opening? Do you think you’ll get enough donations to make that possible?
<+Garret> Once we receive our federal 501c3 we plan on applying for grants and local help.
<~Dan> Ah! I didn’t even think of federal grants. Shows how much I know.
<+Garret> (I’m sorry, I gotta head out. Gotta go pick up a friend)
<~Dan> Oh! No problem, Garret! Do you have time for me to get you the link to the log?
<~Dan> If not, I can PM you via FB.
<+Garret> I’m so sorry, friend called and he needs a pick me up. Another thing the group is useful for.
<+Garret> Sure thing
<~Dan> Okay, no problem! I’ll get the log posted now.