Man works with veteran with the XBOX Adaptive Controller

While gaming may not be an official event at this year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is creating an e-gaming lounge equipped with Xbox Adaptive Controllers at the July 11-16 Games in Louisville, Ky.

Microsoft at NVWG

Logo of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games

Microsoft is proud to support the Department of Veterans Affairs’ e-gaming lounge at NVWG, a co-presentation of the VA and Paralyzed Veterans of America, by setting up four gaming stations that include Xbox Adaptive Controllers to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. The roughly 18-by-18-foot space in the Kentucky International Convention Center offers a place for veterans to relax and enjoy a different type of competition and camaraderie outside of wheelchair basketball, softball, swimming and 16 other athletic events. Microsoft volunteers are joining avid gamer Jamie Kaplan, a recreation therapist at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, to staff the VA e-gaming lounge at the Games, which serve veterans with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, amputations and other impairments to increase their independence, healthy activity and quality of life through wheelchair sports and recreation.

VA partnership

In late April, Microsoft announced a new collaboration with the VA to support veterans with limited mobility by introducing Xbox Adaptive Controllers at 22 VA rehabilitation centers across the U.S. The Xbox Adaptive Controller can be connected to external buttons, switches, joysticks and mounts, enabling gamers with a wide range of physical disabilities to customize their setups. Microsoft is donating the unique controllers as well as game consoles, games and other adaptive equipment to enhance opportunities for recreation, social interaction and therapy for veterans undergoing rehabilitative activities.

“(At VA) we are always looking for innovative ways to facilitate rehabilitation and deliver the best possible care for our Veterans,” said Dr. Leif Nelson, director of VA’s Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events, whose office is managing the Xbox Adaptive Controller distribution and partnership with Microsoft. “A commercially available adaptive controller that can provide access to the wide world of gaming and e-sports is something that can benefit our Veterans by keeping them connected with friends and family across the world, building esprit de corps through competitive or cooperative gameplay, and providing the stress relief video games can provide. It’s a naturally good partnership.

“We now have 26 VA facilities and recreation therapy programs equipped with the controllers and we expect that to continue to grow. We’re also providing access to adaptive gaming as a therapeutic tool during our national rehabilitation events, including the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego later this year, and at next year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Portland.”

Support for the military and veteran community

The Xbox Adaptive Controller partnership with the VA is just one aspect of Microsoft’s commitment to support the deserving members of the military and veteran community. Microsoft Military Affairs leads our engagement with veterans and military families through key initiatives, such as:

  • Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), an 18-week training program that provides transitioning service members and veterans with critical career skills required for today’s growing technology industry. Launched in 2013, MSSA graduates can pursue full-time jobs at Microsoft or one of our hiring partners.
  • Military Spouse Technology Academy (MSTA), which kicked off last September in the Tacoma, Wash., area, is a 22-week program that helps military spouses prepare for and find long-term and meaningful careers in server and cloud administration. MSTA, which graduated 100 percent of its initial 19 participants, is now preparing for sessions this fall in Tacoma and San Antonio, Texas.
  • YouthSpark Military brings STEM and digital skills education to military youth, with hands-on sessions on coding, robotics, artificial intelligence, HoloLens and other innovations. YouthSpark Military events are planned for eight U.S. military bases over the next year.

We’re excited to add support for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games to demonstrate our respect and appreciation for the military and veteran community. It’s also another example of Microsoft’s commitment to develop products and services that empower people of all abilities to achieve more. I hope you’ll join me in wishing NVWG athletes great success in Louisville, where Microsoft recently signed a three-year digital alliance to boost the region’s digital transformation and accelerate AI practices. Please also watch this short video for a first-hand look at how the Xbox Adaptive Controller is making gaming accessible to a broader range of veterans.