Down here in South Texas we have hot, sunny days, wide open spaces, a beautiful beach, and a rapidly growing and vibrant air soft community. Surprisingly, we also have a lot of US military veterans, and as a Christian Counselor and a combat vet myself, I can tell you that we have growing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) numbers among our veteran community, as well.
So what does PTSD and our veterans have to do with the hobby of airsoft, anyway? Well, I was surprised as any to find out that they both have a lot in common. I started playing airsoft with my teenage son a little less than two years ago. What began as fascination with the quality of the highend replica guns and gear ended up becoming a form of therapy for myself and many other veteran friends of mine. In fact, it still is. This crazy little sport where guys and gals (yes, women play too), sling 6mm plastic BBs at eachother out in the woods dressedup in camo uniforms contains all the good things we love about the military. For example, friendship and camaraderie, teamwork, strategy, and definitely a lot more realism than one would expect, (especially if you are a former paintballer) are just a few of this simple games’ perks. And as just as important, airsoft has already served as a polarizing factor in the uniting of several of our local communities, and this means if kids are on a safe, controlled airsoft field they are less likely to be somewhere else getting hurt or into trouble. The game also benefits the video game generation because it not only allows them to experience the 3-D aspect of the shooting games they play, but also gets them off the couch and outside for some much needed exercise!
One of the most beautiful aspects of the game for me is when they blow the air horn to signal the end of a mission, I rejoice inside when I see all my buddies walking out of the wood line with nothing more than maybe a few red BB marks on them. I can tell you that as a former medic, it is a wonderful sight. Then everyone heads back over to their gear or team area, loads up some more BBs and are ready for another round of fun! The smiling faces, the time spent with good friends, and opportunity to see a good plan come together, no one getting seriously hurt … and all that with a gun in your hand! That is indeed therapy!
I know that many veterans use this game as an ongoing tribute to the memory of our buddies who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. In a way it helps us remember the good, and for me to be able to share all the good things about my military service with my son is also priceless. I am now recommending this game to the vets with PTSD that I counsel as form of therapy. It is being received very well and I foresee it being both a valuable healing tool and a very enjoyable hobby for a lot people for a long time. So with all that being said, get those boots out, lace ‘em up, charge those batteries, load some mags and go have a blast!