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In dark days as an Army Ranger captain in Iraq, escaped being harmed physically.
But mentally, it was hard for him to stay focused and keep from panicking.
During his 13 months in Iraq, he narrowly escaped a suicide bombing.
He lost himself in that game, as well as World of Warcraft, and was able to hide from the horrors of war.
In 2006, he left the military and spent a decade in Washington, D.
He wanted to do something for veterans, and he helped start.
After differences with that group, he started a second charity, Los Angeles-basedwhich provides video games and consoles to active military personnel and veterans.
As Memorial Day approaches, the group is gearing up to draw attention to how video games can help with mental illness and suicide prevention.
I spoke with Machuga about his own background, starting his charitable work, and.
Above: Stephen Machuga is CEO and founder of Stack Up, a nonprofit that helps veterans and active military personnel stay healthy through games.
Image Credit: Stack Up GamesBeat: Can you tell me about your own background and what led you to start this organization?
Stephen Machuga: I was deployed video games and saving money twice, and both times — gaming has always been a huge piece of my life.
You still get some of that stuff.
GamesBeat: What was your favorite game or platform growing up?
Machuga: I played whatever.
I video games and saving money up near a rental store, so it was whatever new video games and saving money box art was on the shelf from Nintendo, and when they started renting out game consoles like the Genesis.
I had no real allegiance, like I had this one game for four years.
GamesBeat: Were you into more military or shooter games?
GamesBeat: When did you go into the military?
Machuga: I graduated from college in 1998.
I was commissioned into the Army as a second lieutenant.
I went ROTC out of Purdue University.
Image Credit: Stack Up GamesBeat: And you eventually reached the rank of captain?
Machuga: Yeah, with time in company.
I was promoted to captain, I think, in 2003, right before I went over to Iraq.
GamesBeat: You were a Ranger at that point?
Machuga: Yeah, I had been pinned as a Ranger in the first graduating class of 2000, the new millennium.
It felt like a joke.
GamesBeat: How would you describe all of that, that period in your life?
Machuga: I grew up as a nerd and a geek.
I was a drama geek growing up.
I played video games.
I was not a jock, not into sports, not into any of that stuff.
And then the military got hold of me, and jim cramers and mad money, I drank deep from the well, so to speak, of military culture.
As they say in the Army, I was very hoo-ah at the time.
And https://bonus-deposit-casino.website/and-money/money-app-for-android-and-ios.html the reality sets in as the years start to stack, as you start to lose that youthful exuberance and enthusiasm.
Life kicks you in the shin a couple times.
Eventually I had had enough.
GamesBeat: You spent 13 months in Iraq.
I guess that was plenty for you?
The thing that — I had had a close call in June of that year.
And then finding out we were going back in nine months to replace the guys who were replacing us at the time — nah.
I had no desire to go back to the same spot and take over where we left off nine months later.
We had already been extended over there.
GamesBeat: Did you go in at the very start of the war, or some time after that?
Machuga: Yeah, it was the second iteration.
The first ground troops went over in 2002 and we went over in 2003.
We still rolled across the border from Kuwait into Iraq.
It was still a nerve-wracking experience.
We had to roll across the border there.
Image Credit: Stack Up GamesBeat: How did that shape who you are today, as far as helping you figure out what you wanted to do?
and sportpesa money airtel I got lucky.
Things could have been way different.
I might not have made it back.
I made it back okay, relatively.
There are PTSD issues and other things around that.
My service was one of those things.
GamesBeat: You said video games really helped you.
Do you remember any particular moments about that, games you were playing at the time?
It was obtuse as hell.
I decided to really invest in it, learn it, figure this game out, all the mechanics.
That was the game I would come back to every night, coming back from patrol or whatever we were doing.
Just randomly wandering the countryside to see what Video games and saving money could see.
World of Warcraft was another big one for me.
I got back three weeks before the original World of Warcraft launched.
I was not having a good time being back home.
I was kind of struggling with the cold-water bath feeling of getting dumped back in the states after being overseas for 13 months.
Just struggling, having some issues.
My big thing was trash day, on Tuesdays in Seattle, which is where I was at.
When people got done with trash they would just throw it on the side of the road.
When I came home, trash day would happen with piles of trash everywhere, my brain would just sweat on that.
For no apparent reason.
But it was like being afraid of heights and staring over the side of a tall building.
Your heart starts racing.
I got home three weeks before World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft ended up being this huge time sink for me.
I was using it to get away and escape from my brain that was kind of torturing me at the time.
It worked as this great this web page to calm me down when I was panicking.
I know I need to go somewhere, but….
My brain started calming down.
Things went back to normal, so to speak.
But a big piece of that was World of Warcraft and being able to hide behind this game.
Image Credit: Stack Up GamesBeat: Was it interesting that these games had almost nothing to do with the modern world, with the combat video games and saving money />Those games are still some of our most requested games when we get supply crate requests.
GamesBeat: You were doing counterterrorism work when you got back, and you mentioned on the site that you were doing charity work on the weekends.
Was that how you got back into civilian life?
Machuga: Originally I went down to D.
Making good money and doing the post-military officer thing.
I was just going through the motions, so to speak.
I had a job, but at the time I was also the admin in charge of a group of writers for an organization called Sarcastic Gamer, which is the crew that was behind the start of a thing called Extra Life, the charity organization that really kicked things off in the space.
While I was helping out there I got my first taste of video game charity.
About that time, in 2009, one of my guys who was with me in Iraq re-enlisted, and was immediately sent back over to Afghanistan.
We have nothing to do over here.
You have connections to the game industry.
Can for love and money see what you can do?
We ended up sending over a bunch of DJ Hero, Guitar Hero bundles, Xboxes, all kinds of stuff.
Of course we got back these great pictures of guys in DJ Hero competitions using briefing projectors to put the game up on the side of conex shipping boxes.
All you had to do was reach out to him and see if he could hook you up.
It turned to this cyclical loop of people sending requests.
I had more than enough demand to go around for a while.
Hey, wait a minute, we have a thing here.
So I started pushing.
What if we could do something like Extra Life for troops?
Image Credit: Stack Up GamesBeat: By 2015 that morphed into your own charity.
Did anything directly precede that?
Machuga: There had been another charity prior called Operation Supply Drop.
That was my original charity.
I was removed from my position at Operation Supply Drop on the five-year anniversary of its founding, ironically.
But it all worked out.
It was one of those things that — at the time that was devastating, putting five years into the organization, the branding, all the work we had done.
But it worked out for the best.
GamesBeat: Stack Up began in 2015, then?
Machuga: Yeah, in November 2015.
We launched on Veterans Day.
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