There are more than 1.6 million veterans living in Texas and many of them come back from serving our country facing mental or physical challenges. One locally based nonprofit is helping both veterans and active military face those challenges through video game therapy.
Operation Supply Drop is a 501(c)(3) that has sent consoles and video games to more than 150,000 active military members and veterans for therapy. Navy veteran Christopher Renfro is one of those veterans. He told KVUE how he got involved.
"I was blown up in Iraq and had to have chest reconstruction surgery," Renfro said.
It was a day that changed his life forever after serving two combat tours overseas.
"It was an IED blast on a patrol and it basically broke my collarbone in three spots, cracked my sternum and dislocated my collarbone," Renfro said.
He was sent back to the states for surgery followed by almost a year of physical therapy.
"I was in a sling for a long time and I could only have certain movement of my left arm and my right arm," Renfro said.
Renfro said disabled and recovering in a city where he had no friends or family was hard.
"Your mentality is like 'Oh I'm broken,'" Renfro said.
That's when he was introduced to Glenn Banton and his organization Operation Supply Drop. Banton said the consoles and video games aid the mind, promote camaraderie and help with physical therapy and mental health.
"I think a lot of people kind of trip up on that like why are you sending video games?" Banton said. "I think a lot of people fail to realize that your average deployed troop is probably 19 to 24-years-old and if we just cross-reference that with your 19 to 24-year-old here back at home. What do they do? They play video games."
Banton says despite common belief, the group's occupational therapist says the violent games normally don't have a negative effect on military personnel.
"I like the shooter games and the sports games," Renfro said.
For Renfro, the games provided him with a mental escape during recovery while the controller movement helped him gain hand and arm strength. He has some advice for anyone in a similar situation.
"Keep your options open," he said. "Don't knock something until you try it."
On top of the video games, Operation Supply Drop has a lot of other services they offer.
TAP HERE to learn more about Operation Supply Drop.