RICHMOND, Va. — Jason Parker is 41 years old, but with a video game controller in hand, the lifelong gamer is a kid at heart.
“I’ve never driven a real car, so I assume that’s normal,” Parker said.
Beyond the fun and games, Parker called his gaming serious business.
Parker served in two branches of the military, first as a seaman in the Navy and then as a medic in the Army.
Jason suffered traumatic brain injury in an explosion while on a mission in Afghanistan in 2011.
“I’m having trouble remembering exactly what happened,” Parker said. “I’ve been through some personal struggles since leaving the army. Now, a decade later, I’m in a good place.”
Parker called the recovery a long one.
“I wake up every day now surprised and hopeful, which wasn’t usually the case in the past,” he said.
One path to healing is video games.
“I’m incredibly lucky to be where I am and to be doing what I’m doing,” said Parker.
Tech 4 Troops hired Jason with the title Master Gamer.
“I didn’t know there was a job like this,” Parker said.
Through online play, Parker offers veterans the opportunity to connect and build trust virtually.
“It’s a useful tool for getting them to open up and I really like being able to communicate with my brothers and sisters,” he said.
The non-profit organization provides soldiers and military personnel with refurbished computers and training that can lead to employment opportunities.
Tech 4 Troops President and CEO Mark Casper, who served in the Marines, admires his colleague for reaching out to veterans in non-traditional ways.
“It’s his generation and younger that understands the gaming community,” Casper said. “Seeing Jason survive and thrive makes me feel good that we’re doing something right. That we are in the right place at the right time and at the right moment and we are doing something to change the world.”
The nonprofit’s video game division is like a pit crew for veterans on life’s winding road.
“My strength is that I’m ready to play anything,” Parker said. “Gaming is one of the ways I use therapy.”
Parker said he plans to cross the finish line with flying colors and invites other veterans to ride.
“It’s really special when you find your purpose in something you really enjoy,” he said.
Click here if you want to learn more about Jason’s Play Therapy and Tech 4 Troops.