During the 2023 American Legion National Convention, U.S. Army veteran and cancer survivor Steven Stewart was presented a gaming PC valued at over $4,000 through the Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) program. But the member of the American Legion Department of Georgia said as great as the PC has been, his experience in Charlotte, N.C., was an equally amazing experience.
Stewart was connected with OCW coordinator Douglas Chace, a Membership Engagement Coordinator at American Legion National Headquarters, through Stewart’s membership in the online veterans gaming community REGIMENT. The Legion is the official veteran service organization of REGIMENT and has collaborated on numerous events, including back-to-back REGIMENT gaming stations at the 2022 and 2023 national conventions.
REGIMENT founder Chris Earl hooked up Stewart with Chace, leading to the OCW grant for the gaming PC. Stewart and his wife, Spring, were guests of OCW in Charlotte during the national convention.
“That was, honestly, my first-ever time going to any type of convention like that at all,” Stewart said. “It was really … awesome. I don’t really have any other words to describe it. The networking I was able to do. I was able to meet and talk to a lot of awesome people and connect with a lot of people. And getting to spend a lot of time with Doug was phenomenal. We still keep in contact and text about every other day.”
It's been a whirlwind year and a half for Stewart, who served in the U.S. Army from 2006-2013 and then was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April of 2022. Homebound during his treatment and a longtime gamer, he connected with REGIMENT in September 2022
“There were times when I didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Stewart, who found out in February of this year he was in full remission. “One of my good friends who I served with convinced me to try to stream on (interactive livestreaming platform) Twitch because I was stuck at home. He’s the one who actually got me connected with REGIMENT, and from there I’ve met so many awesome people and connected with so many people over this last year. It’s just been insane.”
Stewart said he was in need of a new gaming PC when he was connected with OCW. He admits he was at first a bit pessimistic about being awarded the grant. “You’re going to have a little bit of skepticism with it, because applying for it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get it,” he said. “I’m still in shock. I’m not going to lie. When they told me I was going to be receiving it, absolutely floored doesn’t begin to describe it.”
The experience at the national convention has Stewart looking to become more active in The American Legion. And he’d like to see fellow veterans his age do the same. “I do see the need for it from my generation of vets,” he said. “Seeing them more involved with it would be phenomenal.”