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!

It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.

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.

"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.

Read More Show Less

An Air Force Special Tactics combat controller that "delivered thousands of pounds of munition" during a close-range 2007 firefight in Afghanistan was awarded the Silver Star on Friday.

Read More Show Less

ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.

That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.

Read More Show Less

The July arrests of 16 Camp Pendleton Marines in front of their 800-person battalion was unlawful and a violation of their rights, a Marine Corps judge ruled Friday.

Read More Show Less

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

Read More Show Less