Contributed by D.J. Wu
Frost Call, a non-profit veterans’ service organization, has been helping veterans in the greater Boston area since 2019. Their unique approach uses video gaming as a catalyst for connecting veterans with one another as well as with helpful resources. With a growing community and peer support initiative called the Battle Buddy Program, Frost Call is expanding to help veterans locally and nationwide.
“Gaming is well-loved across the military community and often serves as a comfort during difficult times,” said Dr. Wes Sanders Ph.D, founder and CEO of Frost Call. “In establishing Frost Call, my goal was to use that common interest as a catalyst to bring veterans together.”
In connecting veterans through gaming, interactions can be as simple as providing a place where veterans can find like-minded individuals, to formal gaming events and programming to help support present and former servicemembers’ mental health.
Prior to the pandemic, Frost Call focused on hosting in-person game nights at local veterans’ service organizations such as VA Medical Centers in Boston and Brockton, Veterans Inc., and the New England Center and Homes for Veterans.
In identifying locations for veteran events, Dr. Sanders explained, “We host gaming events at the VA and other mental health clinics to further this mission by reducing mental health stigma. Each time we help one veteran get the help they need, either through a new friend or connecting to a mental health provider, I believe that we as an organization have been successful.”
Due to COVID-19, Frost Call has moved the bulk of their operations to an online community featuring weekly Twitch streaming and an active veterans’ community on the Discord platform.
But Frost Call still believes that in-person meet-ups are a pillar in their programming. The organization is currently providing a COVID-safe version of their deployable gaming events as a service to the patients of the Home Base Program’s Intensive Clinical Program.
The Battle Buddy program, Frost Call’s latest project, pairs veterans in the community together for a more concentrated form of community and connection.
“The Battle Buddy program provides vets with a support system to reduce isolation and look out for each other,” explained Dr. Sanders. “It’s a peer support model that occupies a unique position between friendship and mental health support.” To date, the program has connected a dozen veterans whose interactions include weekly check-ins, in-person meet ups, and cooperative gaming sessions.
Frost Call’s mission is to foster a community for veterans and service members with a common interest in video and tabletop games. “I created Frost Call out of a desire to establish more preventative sources of mental health support,” said Dr. Sanders.
The organization is still growing and looking for new and innovative ways to support veterans and service members in the greater Boston area. To find out more about Frost Call and ways to support them, please visit www.frostcall.org.