USO Helps Airmen Find Connection Through Gaming

Senior Master Sgt. Erwin Greene is a self-proclaimed gamer. So, when attending a Top 3 meeting to discuss ways to reach younger airmen at Westover Air Reserve Base, Erwin came up with the perfect solution: host a gaming event.

Erwin knows many airmen are gamers and they have downtime during UTAs that would allow them to get to know each other out of uniform. He saw gaming as the perfect way to meet “the airmen where they are at” and be able to talk to them in a relaxed and fun environment.

Not everyone in the meeting was sold on the idea, but Erwin was given the go-ahead to try. He reached out to the USO’s Center Operations and Programs Manager Gillian Begin to provide support.

“First of all, Gillian was amazing,” he said. “The gear that was supplied from the USO was top-notch.”

Aside from gaming equipment, the USO helped promote the event and provided a variety of prizes for participants.

Twelve airmen headed to the Consolidated Club on base for a night of games and connection. They played for several hours and left feeling more understood.

“The benefit of this was putting us on another plane of cohesion,” said Erwin. “They will talk to me a little bit more now and they feel more connected to me.”

Establishing that connection made the event an overwhelming success in Erwin’s book.

Research has shown the positive effects playing video games can have, including alleviating stress, enhancing social skills, fostering communication and strengthening relationships. With Erwin and base leadership eager to develop ways to mentor the young airmen, this event will likely happen again soon and the USO will be there to help in any way they can.

Because, as Erwin said, “I couldn’t have done it without the USO.”

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