An online and console video-game company whose titles include the “Call of Duty” combat simulation is setting aside some of its profits to help men and women who have been through the real thing.
Earlier this month, 14 AMVETS leaders from eight states traveled to the AMVETS Career Center headquarters on East Dublin-Granville Road in the Northland area to learn how to establish similar operations back home.
The creation of these new career centers is made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Call of Duty Endowment to AMVETS National, a veterans’ service organization that was established as the American Veterans of World War II and is based in Lanham, Md.
“The Call of Duty Endowment is a nonprofit public benefit corporation which helps soldiers transition to civilian careers after their military service,” according to its website.
The endowment was established in 2010 by Activision Blizzard Inc. CEO Bobby Kotick. Based in Santa Monica, Calif., the company is described on the site as a “worldwide pure-play online and console game publisher with leading market positions across all categories of the rapidly growing interactive entertainment software industry.”
Activision Blizzard’s portfolio includes best-selling video games such as “Guitar Hero,” “Call of Duty” and “Tony Hawk,” leading franchises such as “Crash Bandicoot” and “pyro” and Blizzard Entertainment’s “StarCraft,” “Diablo” and “Warcraft” franchises, including the online role-playing game, “World of Warcraft.”
It seems only fitting, according to AMVETS Career Center program and operations director Len Proper, that Activision Blizzard gives a little something back to veterans.
“Let’s face it, the lives they live are what helped shape the games they sell,” he said last week.
The first AMVETS Career Center office opened in Columbus on Pearl Harbor Day in 2000, according to Proper.
It came about, he said, as a result of several individuals, himself included, who had been working in government on programs that helped veterans and saw the funding for those programs continually being slashed.
“So we thought, 'why don’t we start an organization that has vets helping vets?'” Proper said. “We’ve walked the walk, so we know a little bit of what they’re been going through.”
Since it was formed, the organization has helped more than 6,000 veterans, more than 1,300 of them this year, according to public relations-media specialist Brooke Chavdar. Hundreds of veterans have gotten jobs as a result of the AMVETS Career Center, Proper said.
The $100,000 grant will help AMVETS organizations in California, North Carolina, Maryland, Iowa, Virginia, New Jersey, Missouri and Pennsylvania replicate the success of Ohio’s career center organization by creating similar operations, according to Proper.
“AMVETS leaders from these states and Ohio assembled in Columbus to collaborate with one another on how to establish and run successful veterans’ career centers in their respective areas,” according to an announcement from Chavdar. “Ohio is currently the only state that houses AMVETS career centers, of which there are approximately 60 locations statewide.”
“Having AMVETS career centers all across the country has always been a dream of mine,” Proper said. “This grant is a great opportunity for AMVETS to reach out and help more veterans gain employment and we’re very happy to be a part of this movement.
“I try to be humble, but I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished here in Ohio,” he said. “It really means a lot to me to see other states interested in this and to even have the private sector É recognize what we do, it’s very gratifying.”