Department of New Jersey Legionnaire Mike Smith said he was shocked when his name was drawn as the winner of a new gaming PC during the 2023 American Legion National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last August.
But the shock has worn off, and now the commander of Anthony Wayne Post 174 in Wayne and adjutant for the Passaic County American Legion has a clear plan for how to use the PC.
Smith, also a member of Sons of The American Legion Squadron 174 and the detachment committee vice chairman, won the PC through a drawing at the REGIMENT GAMING display in the convention’s exhibit hall. The cost of the gaming PC was covered by Ronald Reagan Palisades Post 283 in California, which cosponsored a REGIMENT gaming tournament Memorial Day Weekend in 2022.
A U.S. Army Reserves and Air Force veteran, the 56-year-old Smith has been gaming since the late 1980s and joined REGIMENT around a year ago. He knows exactly how he wants to use the new PC at Post 174.
“I want to use this as a recruiting tool, as a platform to reach out to younger veterans and say, ‘Hey, come down to the Legion. Hang out. Check out the computer we won. Sit down and play some games,’” Smith said. “For the families with kids that we have at the post, they can come to events and their kids can play the educational games.
“It’s very important to me … that we have a way to reach out to the younger veterans. To have the veterans that are members of the Legion but don’t come around much because they’ve got younger kids, and the younger kids don’t have much to do (at the post). If the younger kids can sit down at the computer, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Smith said he learned about the Legion’s involvement with REGIMENT leading up to the 2022 American Legion National Convention, where REGIMENT teamed with Paradox Custom – which specializes in custom computer setups and providing gaming stations – to set up gaming stations near the exhibit hall. And when he saw in July of this year that the Legion became the official veteran service organization of REGIMENT, he was pretty pleased.
“I think it’s very important,” Smith said. “A lot of the younger veterans game. We need to get younger as an organization. To me, the way to do that is to find a common ground. And a common ground is gaming. The younger veterans … they game. And we know they game. To be able to bridge that gap is important for the post, for the Legion as an organization. By being able to have an organization like REGIMENT be a platform for those the Legion is not just (an older veteran organization) … it’s important they see that.”
Smith said he’s already seen on online platforms members of REGIMENT joining local American Legion posts. “I see people posting on REGIMENT’s Discord, ‘I joined the Legion. Here’s my membership package,’” he said. “Every time I see one, as a Legionnaire I always say, ‘Hey, congratulations. Welcome to the Legion.’ That’s what we need, and that’s what I want to do with this computer I won.”
Smith is working with REGIMENT and Paradox on a date to install the gaming PC at the post. He said Paradox founder/owner Arpit Manaktala also has offered to donate some monitors and other “peripherals” that go with the PC.
“I want to make a big splash about this … get some local press to come by,” Smith said. “I want this to be a platform for the younger veterans in our area. And hopefully, as news gets out, it doesn’t have to be just here. It can be at other places, too.”