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May 6, 2024

Xbox Grows Support of Veterans, Military Service Members and Their Families

A smiling military service member uses a laptop at a table while three people in the background sit on a couch and view a tablet together.

Summary

  • Xbox reviews a year of partnership with the USO.
  • Call of Duty Endowment announces new operator packs.
  • Microsoft supports veterans, transitioning service members, and now military spouses with free technical career training through MSSA

Last year marked the beginning of a memorable journey as we joined forces with the United Service Organizations (USO) to bring the joy of gaming directly to you, even when your service takes you across the world. It’s our honor to provide a digital bridge back to your families and friends, ensuring that distance does not diminish the bonds that matter most.

This year, we’re proud to deepen our commitment as a premier gaming partner of the USO, ensuring that Xbox gaming is a staple wherever the USO Gaming program reaches. We understand that being away from loved ones is the most significant challenge of military life for many of you. We’re inspired by all the ways we’ve learned from you how video games can positively influence your lives, offering a tangible connection to your loved ones and the broader military community.

We recognize that deployments and remote assignments can be challenging, and the absence of friends and family can feel profound. Video games are more than entertainment ― they’re a conduit for camaraderie, a momentary escape from the rigors of duty, and a tool to remain engaged with life back home. With Xbox Play Anywhere, you can continue your gaming adventures seamlessly across Xbox console and Windows 10/11 PC, ensuring you can stay connected with loved ones, whether near or far you can stay connected with loved ones, whether near or far.

Xbox is excited to expand our gaming offerings, host more communal events, and introduce new initiatives designed to elevate your gaming experiences and strengthen the connections with your loved ones.  Read on to discover the Call of Duty Endowment update, new career training for military spouses, and more ways we’re connecting with the military community:

Xbox and USO: A Year of Partnership

A military service person and two children sit together on a couch while using a laptop together

Last year, we announced our partnership with the USO to further its mission delivery capabilities by providing more substantial access to services like Xbox Game Pass and gaming equipment, and through partnership in events and program collaboration. This year, we’ve expanded our partnership as a premier gaming partner of the USO and providing Xbox gaming wherever the USO Gaming program is. With 50% of service members citing time spent away from family as their number one issue in military life, it’s heartening to witness the real, positive impact gaming can have in the lives of service members by keeping them connected with their loved ones and the broader military community.

For many service members, being deployed overseas or stationed on remote bases can be an isolating experience. Separation from friends and family can leave them feeling disconnected from their civilian lives. That’s why video games can be a lifeline, providing a way to stay in touch, have fun, and decompress after a stressful day. As an example, last year, Xbox donated 500 Xbox Game Pass Ultimate codes to the USO for their gaming centers, enabling service members to play hundreds of games on their preferred platform, with access on multiple devices in many regions across the globe.

Last year, the USO and Xbox also collaborated on USOCON, an event at Fort Knox where families and cadets stepped away from the stressful challenges of their day-to-day lives and relaxed at their own mini-gaming convention. During USOCON, the partnership with Xbox was a standout feature that not only provided fantastic prizes but also created the “F.O.B. Xbox Area.” This unique space was designed to resemble a forward operating base, offering attendees a fun, free-to-play environment filled with Xbox consoles. An immersive setup allowed soldiers and their families to play a variety of games, enhancing the feeling of community during the event and demonstrating Xbox’s commitment to supporting our troops through interactive and engaging gaming experiences.

In September 2023, Xbox worked with the USO to facilitate a pop-up gaming activation on an aircraft carrier during a family day. This activation provided a unique opportunity to bring gaming to the seven seas, where service members and their families could sit back, relax, and enjoy themselves while underway. This collaboration demonstrates the value of the partnership between Xbox and the USO to not just our nation’s service members, but their families and loved ones as well.

In addition to our well-received virtual Xbox series in partnership with USO in 2023, we hosted a partnered session at the Game Developers Conference in March 2024 entitled “Operation Innovation: How Xbox Employs Military Talents in Gaming,” featuring Xbox and USO expert panelists who shared their insights on how Xbox and USO approach supporting U.S. vets and active-duty military in career development. More than 70 GDC guests attended the session, including both active military and former military across most U.S. forces. 

Transitioning to Video Game Careers

The USO Transition Program extends the USO experience to active duty, Reserve, National Guard and military spouses by offering professional development services throughout the duration of military service as well as in preparation for life post-military. Your military role doesn’t dictate what you do when you transition from the service or capture how the skills developed in that role translate to other industries.

Xbox partnered with the USO Transition Program to host a series of panels showcasing different career paths within the video game industry. More than 340 attendees joined to attend sessions from 219 locations across the world, to learn about the daily work and career paths of panelists with careers in video game engineering, production, and communications.

Panelists shared key points on their pathways to their rewarding careers in the game industry and included military veterans who joined Xbox by way of the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA), Microsoft’s 17-week training program enabling veterans and transitioning service members to find meaningful careers in tech. U.S. service members can apply through SkillBridge or as a veteran for a spot in Microsoft’s rigorous, fully-funded program, designed to build the technical and career-building skills to equip military professionals to get started in IT.

After 10 years working with over 3,700 transitioning and former service members, let’s just say we’ve learned a thing or two about the enormous skillset developed by many in military service, by service members of all MOSs―and also by military families. Juggling the logistics of the military lifestyle, like family obligations amid multiple deployments, is a monumental skillset that’s tough to capture on a resume. In April Microsoft Military Affairs announced the pilot cohort of MSSA–Military Spouse and a new Technical Program Management (TPM) learning path designed to do just that! This free 17-week program uses live virtual instruction to equip military spouses with the technical skills to access remote, portable employment as a TPM. Applications are accepted from May 13–27, so learn more about this exciting opportunity for military spouses and other success stories.

Call of Duty: Endowment

Knight Recon Operator holding a sniper rifle aiming on a target while lightning storm strikes in the background.

Make a legendary difference to U.S. and U.K. military veterans by purchasing the Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.) Knight Recon: Tracer Pack for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III and Call of Duty: Warzone. The full purchase price for this special item, less VAT/sales tax, will be donated to the Call of Duty Endowment, which provides grants to registered charities that place unemployed and underemployed veterans in the U.K. and U.S. into high-quality jobs. By purchasing this pack, you will directly contribute to the Endowment’s mission. Get it now in the Xbox Store.

Gaming and Impact with Rewards  

A reminder that Rewards members can earn and donate Rewards points to the USO and Call of Duty Endowment in specific marketplaces.

Xbox players can earn Rewards points in various ways, such as playing games, completing Game Pass Quests, and purchasing games and other eligible items at the Microsoft Store (exclusions apply). Start earning today and redeem your points for great rewards. Donate your points on the Rewards hub or on the Microsoft Rewards redeem page.   

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