Service members and vets can now download dozens of video games for free — and no, you don't need to reenlist to get them

Mandatory Fun
Four gamers concentrate as they battle it out during a "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" tournament held on the GameTruck at the Clear Creek Post Exchange, Nov. 4, 2013. These were the last four competitors of the midnight release of "Call of Duty: Ghosts." (U.S. Army / Sgt. Cody Barber)

Love video games but hate paying for them? If you're a U.S. service member, a veteran, or a family member of one, then a new program has just the thing for you.

The newly-launched Games to Grunts program offers a slew of free access keys for wide range of Steam games for service members and vets to enjoy, from big-name games like the brawler Tekken 7 and the sword-swinging epic Soulcalibur VI to a slew of solid indie products.

There's one major hitch, though: the program only has a limited number of access keys for each game. Indeed, Games to Grunts previously offered the Xbox shooter Gears of War 4, as well as a year-long gold membership for Xbox Live which ordinarily costs $60, until eager users used up every available key.

But according to the program's website, Games to Grunts works with developers and publishers to continually populate its inventory with new games that may appeal to service members and vets, like popular indie military shooter Insurgency.

Games to Grunts is one of several programs run by Operation Supply Drop (OSD), a non-profit veteran service organization that provides free video games, comics and other goodies — as well as professional development classes, community service programs and social events like workouts, hikes, and tailgates — to service members and vets.

When OSD first started distributing video game access keys in 2010, the program required sending a spreadsheet to a single point of contact on a post or in a unit. But according to the OSD's website, going through a single contact person created a bottleneck in access that prevented the group from "cultivating a relationship at the individual level" with service members and veterans.

Games to Grunts is meant to solve that problem by connecting OSD directly to a potential gamer, which could potentially help them find out about other OSD services. In short, this could be a free ride towards honing your skills for your dream MOS. Just don't blow it!

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It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.

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