Helping Soldiers mend: nonprofit's dgital library, gaming donation add fun to healing process
February 3, 2009
- Video Games help Wounded Warriors relax and heal
(FORT HOOD, Feb. 3, 2009 ) - The Warrior Transition Brigade has one more weapon in its arsenal of helping wounded Warriors heal.
Thanks to a video and gaming library donated by CAUSE, occupational therapy for Wounded Warriors at the Army's largest WTB is now a family affair. CAUSE - known as Comfort for America's Uniformed Services - officially handed over the library in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 29 and opened for business Monday.
The CAUSE Digital Entertainment Library (C*DEL) stocks the latest DVD movies, as well as gaming units like the Nintendo Wii, X-Box 360 and Play Station 3.
Located in Rough Rider Village, the library allows Wounded Warriors to incorporate fun and family with therapy, all in the comfort zone of a family living room, said Col. Casper P. Jones III, commander, Carl R. Darnall Medical Center, who thanked the Virginia-based nonprofit organization for its donation and praised the nonprofit for its efforts in helping heal America's wounded Soldiers.
He called the donation an extension of Army medicine and its promise of "caring for those who have borne the battle." "This is about the solider leaning how to relax, to be human, to be a Soldier, to be a Family member," Jones said.
No one knows the therapeutic value of gaming more than Staff Sgt. Brent Homan, Company A, 1st Battalion, WTB, who, in the summer of 2007, fell victim to an IED while on patrol. Homan not only lost his right eye during the attack, but the blast also severely damaged his arm and severed his thumb.
Doctors, Homan said, told him he would never be able to regain use of his wrist, but the Wii, now a staple of Army occupational therapy, made the impossible a reality. Today, thanks to Wii's bowling, golfing and tennis games, the staff sergeant can move his wrist in any direction he chooses.
"I now have full range of motion and can move my wrist however I want," he said of gaming's therapeutic value. But, Homan added, another benefit of the gaming device is that it involves the family in the Soldier's healing process.
"It is a lot of fun to play with it as a family. It helps relieve stress and helps us to laugh," he said.
Lt. Col. George Salerno, WTB commander, who owns a Wii, agrees. "What better avenue to rebond with your family than playing games and doing it together as a family unit'" he said.
Besides the popular gaming systems, the new digital library boasts several hundred of the latest DVD movie releases, something co-founder Barbra Lau said is fundamental to CAUSE.
"As soon as the movies are released, we buy them," she said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "And if we do not have a popular DVD available, the Soldiers will let us know!"
Today's ceremony celebrates the opening of CAUSE's fifth C*Del. Other branches are located at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio; Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany; and San Diego Naval Medical Center.
A $65,000 donation from The Bob Woodruff Foundation is funding C*Del's operating costs for the first year. Subsequent funding will be via public donations.
CAUSE was started in 2003 by four West Point graduates and Vietnam War veterans and their wives, who initially donated personal care items and clothing to wounded warriors being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Today, CAUSE recreation and entertainment programs reach thousands of injured service men and women facing months of medical care and rehabilitation. These programs are designed to bring a bit of relaxation and fun into what are, for many, very challenging circumstances.
Wounded Soldiers interested in checking out videos and gaming devices can register at the C*Del building located near Rough Rider Village's gazebo.
More than 40 attended the ceremony, including WTB soldiers and Sgt. Maj. William Joseph Gainey (USA-Ret), who served as Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.