‘Call of Duty’ helping our veterans

To help combat recent trends suggesting that America’s veterans are struggling in the face of unemployment, Activision Blizzard, Inc., a worldwide online, PC and console video game publisher and publisher of the best-selling “Call of Duty” video game franchise, has established the Call of Duty Endowment (CODE). This nonprofit public benefit corporation will focus its resources on assisting organizations that provide job placement and training to veterans, as well as engaging the media and public forums to raise awareness about the issue.

At a recent launch event in Washington, D.C., BG Gary H. Cheek, the Assistant Surgeon General of Warrior Care and Transition and Commander of the Warrior Transition Command, stressed the need to help those veterans returning from service who have had difficulty finding employment.

“I could make the case that based upon the service and sacrifice of our veterans that American employers have their own call of duty to ensure they have the opportunity for gainful employment and a viable career,” Cheek said. “Our soldiers have a lot to offer: integrity, discipline, teamwork, and personal sacrifice for a greater good. I can think of no stronger candidates for any positions employers might be looking to fill. These brave men and women willingly put their lives on the line to protect the blessings of liberty enjoyed by every business in this great country of ours.”

Activision Blizzard created the organization with a commitment to donate and raise millions of dollars to help raise awareness of veterans’ unemployment. Recognizing that Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” is expected to be one of the biggest entertainment properties of the year, and that the Call Of Duty game is extremely popular among troops, Activision chose to give back to veterans by using the proceeds from “Modern Warfare 2” to fund the Call of Duty Endowment and raise awareness for this important issue.

Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” was released to gamers worldwide, at midnight on November 10.

To help guide the endowment, Activision Blizzard’s CEO, Robert Kotick, recruited an advisory board composed of respected veterans representing the various branches of the military. The advisory council assists in identifying potential organizations that will receive grants from CODE and helps to raise awareness of the issue across the country.

During the D.C. event, Kotick highlighted the need for other corporate leaders to step forward and ensure that hiring veterans is a priority.

“We embark on this effort as a grateful nation. Business leaders have an opportunity to renew their commitment to the American spirit and to reverse an alarming trend of not recognizing the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military service,” Kotick said.

In addition to announcing Activision’s commitment to raise millions of dollars, CODE also announced a grant of $125,000 made to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) organization. The grant will provide resources to help underwrite the cost of a new PVA Vocational Rehabilitation Services Center in Boston,MA. This PVA program offers vocationally-oriented services to veterans with disabilities, especially those veterans with spinal cord dysfunction.

Homer S. Townsend, Jr., executive director of PVA, expressed how grave the employment issue is for disabled veterans. Speaking at the event Mr. Thompson noted, “PVA estimates the national unemployment rate for veterans with severe disabilities to be over 85 percent. With this grant, and the work already being done by PVA, we aim to make this grim statistic a thing of the past by helping to unleash the untapped talent and potential of this often underutilized part of our workforce.”

Moving forward, CODE will have an active online presence through its website at www.callofdutyendowment.org. This Web site will house statistics about the issue, resources for veterans and employers, recent news items, and videos about the challenges veterans face. CODE also will award several more grants in the upcoming weeks and months and sponsor several events to bring greater awareness of the issue to a variety of audiences.