In this Eve news 24 Community Spotlight I interviewed J Mcclain, Founder of “Best of US” organization.
It’s called “Best of Us” as the name is meant to reflect the notion that we potentially lose people who could have been the best of us to a disproportionate suicide rate among our community. I wanted to raise awareness of the good these different organizations can can do for those who are suffering.
Tell us about yourself and how you started “Best of Us”?
In game I’m a member of Sniggerdly in PL. I got started doing Best of Us in October of 2014. I had been dealing with some of my own issues after being medically retired from the Army and had made some friends in game who were also Veterans and by being able to shoot the breeze and talk about anything from Afghanistan to how to get to sleep with tinnitus I found it was pretty helpful for my day to day outlook. So I decided to organize a channel where we could shoot the breeze and other Vets could get plugged into the Veteran community in Eve since it’s so large I figured if it could help me then it can help other buddies out there and we could come together and do our best to reinforce social support networks in an effort to help decrease the Veteran suicide rate that had become epidemic.
What types of activities has “Best of Us” done within eve in regards to assisting veterans?
With some of the ISK pulled together we’ve helped a few of our guys with ISK for their twitch streams to help promote Vets doing good things in the game. We’ve taken out NPSI roams and been joined by CCP Larrikin more than once, he’s a huge bro when it comes to joining us. With the help of some charitable contributors we’ve gotten some game time for a few of our group who were have some hard financial times, hopefully by getting them access to the game it allowed them some sense of normalcy and enjoyment during a stressful time with what they were going through. But the most important thing I can say that we have done and offer to Vets is the ability to get plugged into a community where they know their peers understand what they are dealing with not just in the sense of possible mental health issues but the shared experience we all have. There have been some really good constructive conversations that happen from people trying to find help and have been given some really good guidance because of all the personal experience we have through folks in our group.
It’s great that CCP Devs get involved with these things. What other groups or individuals would you like to see participate or get involved with “Best of Us”?
Any and every one really. There is a lot of talk about a very real military to civilian gap that is a concerning problem. We tend to get over valorized and treated as a protected class and that kind of erects a barrier to real and open dialogue about what we deal with and the realities of our experience. We have had some very good instances of bridging that gap. For instance I got to speak with several people at Eve Vegas last year about issues I was dealing with personally and these people had parents that were war Vets who never got to have a candid discussion about what they were dealing with day to day. So in that regard I was able to shine some light and hopefully help those people better understand their parents that were no longer with them. Another instance I was able to give some insight to a friend of the group about Traumatic Brain Injury and what to expect and what it’s like for someone dealing with TBI since they had a loved one who had just recent had a TBI. There are so many great ways we can help and bridge that gap with open dialogue and help one another.
I am a veteran myself which made me very interested in the “Best of Us” project. What else can you tell us?
That’s awesome! Well there are so many negatives affecting our community the best way to start fixing it is to try and lead by example and make a difference within the sphere of influence you have. It’s amazing how many vets play eve.
It’s like an escape from reality for us.
It’s a huge portion of the player base way more than you would think possible; I have a theory on why Vets like eve. It mimics the service in a sense that you have this very harsh environment where it’s really hard to accomplish anything meaningful unless you self-organize and work together. It very much mimics the environment humans evolved in as well. But, Vets are all about working as part of the team. Nowhere in any game is a team more capable of achieving than in Eve because it’s challenging to play and get good at. So the community it creates within these social groups mirrors what we see in the service to a degree, and what almost all vets who have gotten out miss about the service.
Eve Vegas is coming up October 28-30; will you be attending the event?
I will be speaking at Eve Vegas on how eve can strengthen and reinforce peoples social support networks, or rather the social communities inside of eve. I’m also going to draw equivalencies and parallels between what I have seen in service to a small part of what I have seen in Eve Online. and kind of talk to the future of digital communities in the future
The best part about all of this is it enables us to reach a demographic of Veteran who is widely ignored, The Veteran who is stuck in the house not necessarily by his or her own choosing. I was there myself not too long ago. If you’re incapable of going into these large urban centers to go to the service organizations and charities you’re pretty much f****d.
Anything else you would like to say to our player base?
Having people know we exist is more than half of the struggle for us. We’ve been going about 2 years now and people are still just finding out we exist. Tell your friends about what we’re doing because the more people we are able to reach the potential for someone gaining real value from our community increases. That potential to have a positive impact in another Vets day to day is what it’s all about.
Best of Us – https://twitter.com/evebestofus
Best of Us – https://www.facebook.com/groups/883223095094514/
Best of Us – https://discordapp.com/invite/NTThRYJ
Best of Us – https://bestofuscommunity.wordpress.com/
Partner Non profit Organization – Spam 4 Heals – http://spam4heals.org/us/